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NSW Health Workers Walk Out Over Excessive Parking Fees

A two-hour walkout is expected to disrupt operations in health facilities as employees protest against what they deem as excessive price hikes in privatized hospital parking lots.

The proposed fee increases, which in some cases reach up to 127 percent at certain hospitals, have spurred health workers in New South Wales (NSW) to stage a walk-off today.

Workers at five NSW hospitals and 11 other sites are taking a stand against what they view as an “outrageous” increase implemented since the start of the pandemic, potentially leaving them with significant financial losses.

The Health Services Union (HSU) has announced that approximately 1,000 members will participate in a two-hour walkout at noon, demanding more equitable terms.

The demonstrations will take place at Westmead, Westmead Children’s, Concord, Liverpool, and Campbelltown hospitals, involving a wide range of staff from psychologists and scientists to kitchen workers, cleaners, security personnel, and others.

During the pandemic, hospital parking was free, but since February, employees with permits have been charged up to $27.20 (US$17.66) per week.

For those who park five days a week, 48 weeks a year, this amounts to around $1,300 annually.

Some Employees Could Face $2,600 in Annual Costs

Staff members who did not hold a parking permit due to being on a waitlist for one are being billed up to $11 per day, totaling approximately $2,600 per year, as reported by the union.

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“The significant increase in parking costs must come to an end,” stated Lauren Hutchins, assistant secretary of the HSU.

“With the rising pressures of living expenses, charging employees $2,600 to park at their workplace is unjust and unethical.

“Healthcare workers in NSW put their own well-being on the line to safeguard the community throughout the Covid-19 crisis. This is a strange way to acknowledge their sacrifices.

“The NSW government is forcing workers to bear the burden of privatized hospital parking lots. Where else can employees be charged thousands of dollars for the privilege of commuting to work?

“The frustration and anger among HSU members have reached a boiling point. Therefore, today, HSU members at 16 public hospitals will partake in industrial action, calling on the NSW government, NSW Health, and local hospital management to reverse the price hikes and engage in discussions towards a fair parking arrangement that considers fees, accessibility, and employee safety. It seems like a reasonable request, in my opinion.”

Before the pandemic, parking costs were $12 per week for employees with permits, and union members are urging hospitals to revert to this rate.

Contribution by AAP to this article

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