When lip service just won't cut it anymore

By Janine Graham

How many times have you heard an employer - big, little or otherwise - say staff are the backbone of their business.

"Our people are our greatest asset", "they're more like family than employees", "we wouldn't be where we are today without our staff" ... you know the drill, you've heard it at one work do or another.

Sometimes you believe there's an authenticity to it, some times there's that lip service quotient that goes through the roof and then other times, you've heard it so often you no longer actually hear, much less believe, it.

For instance, when a politician fronts up on a daily basis and thanks every man and his dog for their contribution, the sincerity becomes questionable. It's when your "blah-ometer" goes bananas - lots of words, management-speak and so often, a sense of emptiness when they're done. But then when hundreds of your employees unite to publicly sign an open letter, it's probably time to have a listen.

Such was the case today when metro media revealed that hundreds of ICU nurses in NSW warned NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian that "the system" will not cope with the expected COVID-19 surge if changes are not made.

The Premier has oft-repeated that "it's going to get worse before it gets better" but now nurses have responded plainly: "It is our professional conclusion that ICUs were in crisis prior to the current COVID-19 pandemic ... The added demands of the pandemic, testing capacity and surging admissions is forcing our clinical workforce to the brink."

That's a red flag moment for most managers. As was Victorian Premier Dan Andrews' straight-talking today.

He said his state missed out on 340,000 doses of vaccine and demanded "unfair" and "under the table" arrangements stop: "I did not sign up to a national plan to vaccinate Sydney."

In an intentionally poorly-disguised swipe at the PM, he said some people did not see the vaccine rollout as a race.

"But a race it surely is," Mr Andrews said. "What I didn't know was that (NSW) Premier Gladys Berejiklian's in a sprint while the rest of us are supposed to do some sort of egg-and-spoon thing."

Oh, and wouldn't you know it, the WA Premier had a few words to say, too. He blamed his state's glacial-like vaccine rollout on the uneven distribution of jabs.

Mark McGowan said while he supported NSW receiving additional vaccine supplies, other states need to be reimbursed: "It's now time for a catch up."

It was a catch-up of a different kind that had the PM in the another spotlight today - a Father's Day trip to Sydney.

Mr Morrison flew to Sydney to visit his family over the weekend, despite an ongoing lockdown in the ACT and NSW. Today he dismissed criticism as "cheap politics" and said he'd continue to make those trips.

For the people of NSW without a travel exemption, know that the state's crisis committee will meet to discuss lifting lockdowns tomorrow but you'll need to hang on until Thursday to learn the verdict.

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This story When lip service just won't cut it anymore first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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