Victorian nurses enforce work bans
By Kim Linden
MELBOURNE — Victorian nurses voted unanimously on February 17 to impose work bans in support of a nationwide campaign for an 8% pay increase.
Members of the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) who attended stop work meetings decided to enforce bans which would affect elective surgery and slow down the discharge rate of patients from hospital. The decision comes after an 18-month process of enterprise bargaining which has failed to deliver any pay increase for nurses across the country.
The nurses are now calling on the union to take the claim to the federal Industrial Relations Commission. The bans have been in place throughout Victorian hospitals since February 20. Rallies have been held by nurses in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.
Last year nurses were granted an $8 safety net increase. Apart from this, 60% of Australian nurses have not had a pay increase since the national wage case 2.5% in 1991, despite estimates that nurses' workloads have increased by 15% in the last three years.
The Victorian government has told nurses not to undertake any workplace actions but to continue enterprise bargaining negotiations with private or public hospitals. The ANF has said that any further enterprise bargaining is "beyond belief", given that negotiations have been going on for such a long time.