Protect Us. Respect Us. Pay Us. WA Health Workers call for COVID Surge Allowance as local cases rise.

Wednesday 02 Mar 2022

The Health Services Union of Western Australia is calling on Employers and the State Government to commit to paying WA Health Workers a COVID Surge Allowance. HSUWA has labelled the allowance as vital to the retention and participation of the Health workforce as they deal with increasing risks and demand and tough working conditions.

 

The HSUWA undertook a snap survey of members, 97% of whom supported the need for a COVID Surge Allowance for frontline staff.

 

The allowance proposed is similar to the Hospital Surge Support Allowance which has been in place in Victoria since October 2021. The allowance would support a frontline patient-facing health employees, working in areas of high risk and demand to be paid up to an extra $60 per shift.

 

Naomi McCrae, Secretary of HSUWA said, “We’ve made submissions to the Health Minister and private sector employers requesting this allowance be instated before the public health emergency escalates within the system. Ideally, they should announce this commitment prior to borders opening this week and, it needs to be adequate and not tokenistic.”

 

The latest ABS CPI statistics demonstrated that inflation in Perth last year was 5.7% (Dec 20-Dec21). HSUWA is adamant that the COVID Surge Allowance needs to be provided to Health Workers without entitlement trade-offs, or employers preventing employees from seeking basic pay increases.

 

McCrae said, “After suffering stagnant wage growth for years and responding to the many different and extra demands of the pandemic in an already stretched system, the State’s Health Workers are entering this next very challenging period frustrated and seriously fatigued. We all rely on their expertise and professionalism and this should be recognised and reflected with better pay, it’s as simple as that.”

 

McCrae continued, “Not only are they doing dangerous and difficult work and working long hours in full PPE, but their pay has also not kept up with the cost of living.”

 

In the same survey, 58% of members said that in the past 12 months they had seriously considered leaving their job, with 18% indicating they would be leaving the WA health sector entirely within 12 months’ time.

 

McCrae explained, “Western Australian Health Workers will give and keep giving because they are totally committed to caring for our community. But we need to recognise and value this work. We must support these critical workers with an allowance recognising the tough conditions they face every day as we head into the first COVID Surge. They need better pay. There are many other things they need, but let’s start with that.”

 

McCrae said, “Provision of a COVID Surge Allowance would go some way to demonstrating the value employers have for the expertise of Health Workers and acknowledge the burden of risk, tough conditions in full PPE and high workload they take on to support our community.”

 

The HSUWA made a submission to the Health Minister’s Office in January, including the request for a COVID Surge Allowance and is still awaiting a formal response.

 

HSUWA is a growing Union of thousands of trusted and respected health professionals who provide critical clinical, administrative, and technical expertise across WA’s public and private health services. Members work across all of Allied Health, Pharmacy, Pathology and Medical Imagining as well as Health Administration. You can read more about the HSUWA here

Media Contact:

Alex Biddle, Communications Officer

E: abiddle@hsuwa.com.au

M: 0438 889 372

 

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