I know it’s early, but I didn’t want to miss out on being the first to wish my baby catching colleagues a very happy International Day of the Midwife!
Yes, it’s May 5th. And I truly hate to sully this day, which ought to be all about the wonderful work of our skilled and essential midwifery workforce, but I will forever after remember May 5th for another reason.
On this day in 2011 Health Minister David Davis signed the Cabinet-in-confidence document that outlined his department’s bargaining strategy (frustrate negotiations until FWA has to step in and thus force mandatory arbitration), and their aims (kill ratios, introduce ‘flexible’ short and split shifts, replace nurses with PCAs, cut 4% of the nursing budget).
The Minister and the Premier lied to the public until the document was leaked to The Age in November, and Mr Davis lied to nurses at the 2011 Delegates’ Conference in July, stating “We are prepared to, ah, negotiate in good faith.” Wrong, Minister Davis.
In 938 days this duplicitous government will be up for re-election. I have no doubt that there’ll be new beds a couple of years from now, nor that we’ll be promised the moon. But I, for one, will remember the actions that spoke louder than honeyed lies, because 2 years, six months, three weeks and three days is nowhere near long enough for me to forget that this government’s decision to put short-term profit over the long-term interests of the community it was elected to serve forced nurses and midwives to strike, for the first time in over a quarter of a century, after more than half a year of negotiations, unprecedented action (including authorisations of resignation), and under extraordinary pressure. It is not long enough for me to forget that, despite our success, this government is still trying to implement these disastrous measures in mental health. And it is no long enough for me to forget that my palliative care, community health and other colleagues have agreement negotiations pending or in progress.
Tomorrow, red-clad, I’ll proudly join my union and my colleagues at the front of the march from Trades’ Hall. I will celebrate the strength, the unity, the commitment and the success of the ANF Vic. branch Executive, staff and members. And, as on every day until the end of November 2014, I will remember.