Nurses stand their ground

Nurses nationwide will be standing their ground until they are given what they are owed.

Over a week has passed since the PNG Nurses Association commenced their sit-in protest over outstanding industrial awards.

In Lae, nurses continued their gathering at the ANGAU Memorial Provincial Hospital while doctors and community health workers (CHWs) took on added responsibilities in the wards.

Regional representative and acting president of Morobe Nurses Association, Siling Awasa, said this afternoon that the week-long wait has been frustrating for their members as they wait for PNGNA executives in Port Moresby to continue pushing for their agenda.

“It’s day 7, nothing has come good from the national (association) but their advice is for us to stay together and continue with what we are doing as we wait for the arbitration tribunal to listen to the cases tomorrow (Nov 17th),” she stated.

“From Morobe, we will still sit-in while waiting for that to happen tomorrow.

“Also from the national (association), they are thinking of registering the case with the industrial registrar if we can go for a strike. But that is after the meeting tomorrow with the arbitration tribunal.”

The nurses started their sit-in protest on Monday, November 8th.

It was obvious from the meeting this afternoon that they were already tired of waiting for the departments of personnel management and health to process their 2021-2023 industrial awards.

“Everybody is angry, they want to walk off the job right away but we are telling them to maintain what we’ve been doing for the last six days,” said Sr Awasa.

“They’re very angry because the government is not responding to us quickly.

“When you really look at the role of a doctor, a nursing officer and a CHW and a health extension officer, you would clearly define that nursing officers are the heartbeat of the health system. We keep the system going.

“When the doctors walked away the other time, we still maintained the health system. But for us not being present at work, there are some procedures that can’t be conducted. Only if a nursing officer is there, they can conduct those procedures.

“Right now the areas of (operating) theatre, accidents and emergency and labour ward are specialty areas that need specialty nurses to be there to conduct specific procedures.”

Sr Awasa said they know the hospital is already feeling the impact of the semi-withdrawal of nursing services.

“We just need the hospital and other health unions to support us in this fight so we get what we want,” she added.

(Regional representative and acting president of Morobe Nurses Association, Siling Awasa [left], addressing members this afternoon at the ANGAU Memorial Provincial Hospital)

Carmella Gware