Nurses across NSW went on strike on Tuesday afternoon against the government’s treatment of them during the pandemic. As they bloody should.

From Orange to Broken Hill to the Sydney CBD, thousands of nurses and midwives protested the conditions in hospitals over the course of COVID-19.

They called for better working conditions due to the intense pressure on the healthcare system.

The Industrial Relations Commission had ruled that the strike shouldn’t go ahead back on Monday afternoon. That decision came after the NSW government took issue with the strike and said that it would be disruptive to health services.

But the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association broke the ruling. It held its first strike in a decade which tells you all you need to know about the immense, unsustainable level of pressure on healthcare workers.

Strike organiser Mark Murphy explained the unions’ goals on the Today show.

“What we’re hoping for today is for the NSW government to listen to our claims for safer patient care through nurse-to-patient and midwife-to-patient ratios, to commit to a pay rise greater than 2.5 per cent, and to abandon any plans they have to change the current workers’ compensation legislation,” he said.

The union also organised for life-preserving staff to stay on duty so that very sick patients could be properly cared for. 

Where would we be without nurses, hey? They’re the absolute lifeblood of this country and they’ve been treated like shit during this pandemic. 

Footage out of the strike and protest was shared on Twitter. Can I just say, some 10/10 slogan posters there.

One nurse told Nine News they’d never seen so many people quit the profession.

“It’s been a whirlwind of a year. We have had a lot of people quit nursing forever,” they said.

“I have never seen such a mass exodus of people leaving the profession.”

“People go into this because of the love they have for people and then the way that we’re being treated they can’t go on anymore.”

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard held talks with the union on Monday. But according to the ABC, they couldn’t sort out a stalemate over pay and staffing levels. 

Surely it’s not that hard to simply listen to nurses when they say they’re overworked? And also pay them for their labour, as a bonus?

Nurses said that many have been left to use their sick leave if they get COVID-19.

An emergency nurse at Mount Druitt called Michael told the Sydney Morning Herald that using sick leave for COVID-19 was “part and parcel of the job at the moment”.

“Inferior pay, support and leave, it’s no wonder so many are walking off the job.”

NSW Health said there were some minor disruptions and delays.

“These disruptions and delays mainly related to elective surgeries and some community health services,” a spokesperson told the ABC.

“Despite the strike action, instigated by the union in defiance of the Industrial Relations Commission’s orders, our hospitals maintained life preserving staff.”

Give the nurses a pay rise. Give them proper COVID-19 leave. And give them some tangible thanks— instead of just lip service — for helping us survive this crisis, you cowards.