Emerald nurses to rally in protest

EMERALD nurses will join a protest rally outside Parliament House today to voice their anger and frustration over the sick state of the Queensland Health payroll debacle.

Every fortnight for five months, nurses across the Central Highlands and Isaac council regions have been overpaid, underpaid or not paid at all, leading to some deciding to leave the profession.

The health professionals, with families, mortgages and everyday expenses, have been vocal in their condemnation of Health Minister Paul Lucas for failing to fix the system.

Works Minister Robert Schwarten hasn’t escaped criticism either, when auditor general Glenn Poole’s payroll report found the structure of the system’s implementation was confusing.

The nurses will join around 1000 health workers at the rally which coincides with the Queensland Nurses Union annual conference and the State Government’s Health Estimates committee hearing where portfolio expenditure will be closely scrutinised.

“We would like to get the message across, as evident from the auditor general’s investigation of this payroll fiasco, that is the responsibility of Queensland Health to fix the system,” said Emerald QNU workers in a statement to the Central Queensland News.

“We would like to think some committee members would dare to actually come out and listen to us all; to listen to the raw emotion in nurses’ voices as they describe the huge emotional and demoralising financial impact this debacle has had on each and everyone’s lives.

“It is time to stand up and answer our questions – like when this payroll system be fixed?

“No more excuses, no more time given for ministers Lucas and Schwarten. They both need to stand up to be held accountable and then resign!”

Queensland ambulance officers will continue to fight for more pay and better conditions, despite winning a 20 per cent pay rise.

The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission on Monday ruled officers should get a cumulative wage increase of about 20 per cent, backdated to November 2008.

The order also includes additional payments based on length of service, qualifications and experience, and more sick leave. Queensland police are locked in a wages dispute with the government, rejecting an ‘insulting’ 2.5 per cent rise a year for the next three years.

“It is time to stand up and answer our questions.”

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