Global Nurses United of Nurse, Health Care Workers' Union, Is Born

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Publication date: 
Wed, 2013-06-26

SAN FRANCISCO – Leaders of the premier nurses and health care workers unions in 14 nations in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe have announced plans to form a new international organization to step up the fight against the harmful effects of austerity measures, privatization, and cuts in health care services that they say are putting people and communities at risk across the planet.

Calling the new formation Global Nurses United, leaders of the initial endorsing countries said they would also work collectively to guarantee the highest standards of universal health care as a human right for all, to secure safe patient care, especially with safe nurse-to-patient ratios, and safe health care workplaces.

Endorsers of the San Francisco declaration included top nurse and health care worker unions from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea and the United States.

Pledging to work together with all health care workers and other organizations committed to economic and social justice, the leaders of Global Nurses United said they are also unified in opposition to the adverse effects of income inequality, poverty, maldistribution of wealth and resources, attacks on public workers, and the ravages of climate change.

As participants noted, there are international union formations of other sectors ranging from teachers to steel workers. Now nurses have one as well, said enthusiastic GNU participants.

The founding meeting was hosted by National Nurses United, the largest U.S. union and organization of nurses, and chaired by NNU’s Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro. “The unity and determination of nurse and health care worker unions to come together and push to protect all our people is a profound expression of how deeply the neoliberal agenda is coordinating and devastating countries and lowering standards worldwide,” DeMoro said.

Through the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Canada's unionized nurses are very proud to be part of the founding of the Global Nurses United. "It is about time we all join forces as nurses unions across the world. Patient safety, access to quality care and nurses professional work life are in jeopardy. Together and joining with other progressive voices, we will make the health of our citizens the number one priority of all governments," says Linda Silas, President of the CFNU.
Taking action, the unions said, will be a major focus of Global Nurses United. GNU members said they will kick off the new organization with actions in member nations in September, coinciding with the opening of the next session of the United Nations General Assembly. The focus of the actions will likely be austerity, privatization of health and other public services, and other attacks on health services, with specific actions and targets tailed to national priorities.

In the initial meeting June 22, participants in nearly every country described similar crises of erosion of health and other basic services and public protections, attacks on the rights, living standards, and even personal security of nurses and other workers.

In every nation the workers are in motion, challenging austerity measures imposed by conservative governments or globalized corporate assaults, with strikes and other major protests. With Global Nurses United, the unions said they will be able to better coordinate such actions, provide international solidarity, and offer each other support and assistance.

As the participants said in their opening declaration, “We, the leaders of international nurses and health care unions, affirm our intention to work collectively to protect our professions, our patients, our communities, our work, our health, our environment, and our planet.”

Representatives of the following unions participated in the initial GNU meeting:

Argentina –  Federación Sindical de Profesionales de la Salud de la República Argentina

Australia – Australian Nursing Federation, ANF Victoria Branch, New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association, Queensland Nurses Union

Brazil – Sindicato dos Enfermeiros, Sindicato dos Enfermeiros of São Paulo

Canada – Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, United Nurses of Alberta, Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec

Costa Rica – Associacion Nacional de Profesionalies en Enfermeria

Dominican Republic – Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de Enfermeria

Guatemala – Sindicato Nacional de los Trabadores de Salud de Guatemala

Honduras – Asociation Nacional de Enfermeras/os Auxiliares de Honduras

Ireland – Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation

Israel – National Association of Nurses

Philippines – Alliance of Health Workers

South Africa – Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa

South Korea – Korean Health and Medical Workers Union

United States – National Nurses United