It has been over four months since Queensland Health’s bungled payroll system left thousands of nurses and hospital workers underpaid.
Of all the hundreds of signs held up outside of parliament house in Brisbane last month, there was one that summed up the feelings of everyone gathered in three small words: Just fix it.
It has been over four months since Queensland Health’s bungled payroll system left thousands of nurses and hospital workers underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all. And effected nurses still feel like they haven’t received meaningful answers.
In their latest action, more than 300 protesters rallied outside parliament house, demanding an end to the debacle. Held on 14 July, it coincided with a ninth bungled run on a new payroll system – 57 staff received no pay, with many more receiving incorrect pay.
One of them was Bundaberg Base Hospital nurse Jennifer Macklin finding out she’d been underpaid again.
“I got paid $800. I estimated that I should be paid around the $1800 mark,” she said.
“How am I supposed to pay rent? I’ve got bills to pay, I’ve got food to buy and petrol to put in the car. It’s heartbreaking.”
It was a similar story for Aurukun nurse Josh Stafford, who travelled from the far north Queensland community to join the protest.
He said he hadn’t been paid correctly that pay cycle for his extra duties and recalls.
“It would run into the hundreds of dollars easily this week. Since the new payroll has been introduced I’d be out of pocket $6000,” he said.
While hoping to have their question of when the “nightmare” would end, they were again left disappointed by Health Minister Paul Lucas.
Lucas said he could not give a date, but it would take “some months to get it absolutely accurate”.
After facing him in a fiery budget estimates hearing, Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle said he believed it would at least take 12 months until the problem was solved.
Lucas told the hearing that 11,500 Queensland Health staff who received overpayments of up to $200 on or before 1 July won’t have to return the money.
However about 11,000 staff believed to have received overpayments of more than $200 will have to repay it.
“Getting this right will not happen quickly, but I give my commitment that I will work tirelessly until the job is done,” Lucas said.
The Queensland Nurses Union, said the $200 was chicken feed compared to what some employees were owed.
“Some people say they are owed thousands and we don’t dispute that figure,” union secretary Gay Hawksworth said.
Meanwhile, more than 2000 people have registered with a Queensland Public Sector Union internet campaign, www.standupstepdown.com, calling on Lucas to resign over the payroll debacle. With AAPDo you have an idea for a story?
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