5 March 2024

Workers at 16 hospitals across NSW stop work over 'extortionate' parking fees

| James Day
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A group of doctors in their surgery smocks protesting outside Westmead hospital with signs about parking fees.

HSU members are calling on hospitals to maintain free parking for staff or, at the very least, not increase fees above the pre-COVID rate. Photo: HSU NSW.

Around 1000 health workers from across 16 of the major state-run hospitals have walked off the job over two hours, in protest of “extortionate” parking fees.

Last Friday (29 February) the Health Services Union (HSU) organised workers including psychologists, scientists, theatre technicians, kitchen staff, cleaners, security guards and others, to strike against the fee increase.

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Between noon and 2 pm, protests were held at Westmead, Westmead Children’s, Concord, Liverpool and Campbelltown hospitals, along with 11 others.

HSU Assistant Secretary Lauren Hutchins said with surging cost-of-living pressures, charging staff $2600 to park at work was obscene and immoral.

“The great parking gouge must stop,” said Ms Hutchins. “Managers love to mouth platitudes about health workers, but then sting them with sneaky taxes.

“It’s just not on.”

According to the HSU, some hospitals are proposing fee increases of up to 127 per cent. Since January they’ve been arguing for health workers to get a better deal, arguing fees should at least come back to the same rates as they were pre-COVID.

During those times, parking was $12 a week for those with parking permits and during the pandemic it was free for staff.

But since February permit holders have been charged up to $27.20 per week, costing them around $1300 annually if they park five days a week, 48 weeks a year.

Those without a permit and still on a years-long waitlist, according to the HSU must fork out up to $11 a day, costing them around $2600 annually.

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Ms Hutchins said the HSU had met with the Ministry of Health on three occasions to discuss their concerns but they had not budged on the new rates.

“Unless we see progress this campaign will ramp up,” said Ms Hutchins. “Health workers across NSW sacrificed their own wellbeing to protect the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a funny way to thank them for their sacrifice.”

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