Junior doctors and paramedics will now be able to leave the troubled Health Services Union (HSU) and be represented by another organisation under new laws passed by the NSW parliament.
Previously the doctors and paramedics could only be represented by the HSU, but under the changes the Emergency Medical Services Protection Association and the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation will be able to act on their behalf.
The NSW government had wanted changes to the Industrial Relations Act to allow any employee to join the union of their choice, bringing the state in line with the federal system.
However, the scope of the legislation was narrowed to only junior doctors and paramedics, following amendments by Labor and Greens MPs in the upper house.
“While the narrowing of the scope is disappointing, this is a great outcome for our junior doctors and paramedics who have been rightly demanding change for a long time,” NSW Industrial Relations Minister Mike Baird said in a statement.
“This reform delivers a fairer industrial system which finally provides them with a real choice of representation.”
Greens MP David Shoebridge said while paramedics and junior doctors had a legitimate case for joining a union other than the HSU, competitive unionism across the board would have been detrimental to workers.
“The government’s real agenda here was to have teachers fighting principals, nurses fighting midwives, and one government department fighting another in a dog-eat-dog union world that was not in the interests of the workforce,” Mr Shoebridge said.