St. John's lunchtime rallies suport disciplined Botwood co-worker
Shouting "support for Botwood," nurses Andrea Pretty (from left), Yvette Hynes and Jerry Hearn, take part in a lunch-hour rally by nurses Wednesday at the entrance to the Health Sciences Centre in support of a Botwood nurse disciplined last week by the Ce
Nurses demonstrated at lunchtime rallies in St. John's on a fall day much warmer than when they may next hit the streets - after a strike vote in January.
Nurses protested outside the Health Sciences, St. Clare's and the Waterford in support for a coworker in Botwood who was recently disciplined for refusing to do non-nursing chores.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses' Union called on nurses to stop doing a variety of housekeeping and office duties in early October, as a way to draw attention to the shortage of nurses and put pressure on the provincial government in contract negotiations.
The nurse in Botwood got an adverse report put on her file because she wouldn't call in a housekeeping staff member on the night shift.
"So we're here in support of her because we want to take care of patients," said Sherry Bugden, a registered nurse protesting with a group of about 60 people outside the Health Sciences on Wednesday.
"We don't want to be calling in housekeeping or maintenance staff," Bugden says.
While holding signs, waving flags and chanting "nursing shortage, situation critical," "nurses want to nurse," and "patients come first," drivers on Prince Philip Drive honked their horns in support.
Joan Rumsey, a nurse in the day unit was protesting outside St. Clare's at lunchtime as well. She says nurses are not pleased with the way Central Health has dealt with the situation in Botwood.
"She was only doing her job. We are trying to bring attention the fact that nurses are spending a lot of their time doing non-nursing duties and taking us away from our patients which is where we want to be," Rumsey says.
Union president Debbie Forward attended both Health Sciences and St. Clare's protests, and echoed her support for the nurses in Botwood.
"We can't be out there with you but we're strong. You've taken a strong stand for your patients, for health care and we support you," Forward says.
While she did not give a speech at either of the lunchtime events, Forward told media that nothing has changed in the negotiations with government and they are in the process of putting their essential services agreements in place with health boards in preparation for a strike vote in January.
"Nurses have clearly said we need to do more to make sure that we have enough nurses, we're going to stand up for health care and none of us want to have a strike, but if that's what it's going to take nurses are willing to do it," Forward says, adding the reaction from the public to the protests has been excellent.
"For nurses hearing those horns (honking) it's really important as well, because sometimes you wonder whether the public is getting the message and if they understand," Forward says.
While nurses are lobbying for a better paying contract with government, Rumsey says they are also lobbying for the health of everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"I'm retiring next year so the money means very little to me, but I have lots of family members that I'm concerned about that are going to face a future of uncertainty in health care because the nurses just aren't going to be there to care for them and for me. That's my concern," Rumsey says
"We're out here for the health-care system in general, we are in a crisis and it is going to get worse."