Nurses provide some of society's most vital health and care services. This past year has seen several PSI affiliates around the world representing nurses take industrial action. The wave of actions looks only set to continue - until governments and employers listen to their demands, nurses will continue to fight back.
All over the world, nurses confront the same intolerable conditions which have deteriorated even further since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Low pay, insufficient staffing levels, unfilled vaccines, high staff turnover and poor workplace health and safety. There is also a lack of significant investment in public healthcare services and some governments' overreliance on outsourcing services to private providers.
13 million more nurses may be needed by 2030
Burnout and stress have led to an exodus of nurses, record numbers are now leaving the sector further deepening the staffing crisis.
To meet this figure, governments and employers must fix the workforce crisis by improving pay and conditions to match the rising cost of living, implementing workforce standards to ensure the safe delivery of care and investing properly in public health and care systems.
ILO General Survey
Our affiliates across the world led the way in responding to the ILO’s General Survey in 2021 on Decent Work for care economy workers in a changing economy. The survey reviewed – among other instruments –the Nursing Personnel Convention, 1977 (No.149) and the Nursing Personnel Recommendation, 1977 (No. 157) covering all forms of nursing and care work including formal institutional nursing, aged and disability care, home care and community care services.
The General Survey provided an opportunity for affiliates to highlight the barriers nurses and other health workers face in securing decent work and trade union rights, as well as the threats posed by inadequate funding of public health services, privatisation, outsourcing and austerity.
As the global union federation for the health and care sector, including nurses, the contributions of PSI and its affiliates in the survey were significant and should now be taken into account by governments.
Read our PSI summary of the ILO General Survey here.
(Available in Spanish, French, Portugese, Arabic)
Now is the time for governments around the world to recognise the crucial work of nurses and ensure better pay and working conditions, including occupational health and safety and protection from violence and harassment.
We Need You to Take Action
Write to your government now demanding a meeting to discuss the application of the ILO instruments C149 and R157 on securing decent work for nursing personnel. They must take urgent action to fix the staffing crisis, invest properly in public health and care services and pay nurses what they deserve. PSI will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with all health and care workers fighting for better pay, terms and conditions. We will support you in any action you take to fight for nurses.
Download our Sample Letter in English, French, Spanish, Portugese, Arabic.
Nurses continue to go above and beyond to put patient care ahead of their own basic needs. PSI stands in solidarity with all nurses taking industrial action.
Enough is enough.
If you are an affiliate of PSI and are taking industrial action please get in contact with Baba Aye Health and Social Services Policy Officer at email@example.com and Huma Haq Social Care Organiser at firstname.lastname@example.org
Behind the Mask
Don't forget to check out our online interactive documentary "Behind the Mask", featuring four frontline health workers from across the world.
Meet the workers and use our Social Media Toolkit to show your solidarity and build our campaign for better conditions!
Trish is a nurse from Zimbabwe who organizes a protest pushing for higher wages, where she is arrested. Her story explores how underemployment, political corruption and lack of health funding have made working conditions impossible.
Hassena is a Community Health Worker (CHW) in Pakistan who helps form a union and is now helping other CHWs across Asia do the same. Her story explores the crucial role CHWs play in the global health system and fight for formal recognition, wages and safe working conditions.
Graciete is a nurse from Brazil who works to collect worker testimonies to build the legal case against Bolsonaro’s Government over the mishandling of COVID, which has gone all the way to the ICC. Her story explores government complicity and corruption, as well as international accountability.
Nawfel is a hospital administrator in Tunisia who is an active member of his union which won a Nobel Prize after helping lead a peaceful revolution. He helps his union plan a strike for more health employment and participates in a protest for hazard pay.
The International Nurses Day is celebrated every year on May 12th. This year as the world takes stock of the devastating effects of the pandemic, the day provides an opportunity to highlight the need for urgent action for securing the interests of the nursing workforce that worked tirelessly through the pandemic.