WA nurses' dispute intensifies

April 8, 1998

By Rina Anticich

PERTH — Registered nurses in WA's public hospitals have taken further industrial action in their fight for a 15% pay increase. Nurses have received few pay increases over the last decade, yet their workload has increased enormously because of staff cuts, leave restrictions and the growing demand on the public health system.

In January, the Australian Nurses Federation (ANF) began industrial action in all major public hospitals except the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children. They closed one in five beds, opening them only for emergencies.

Hospital administrators attempted classify elective surgery as emergencies. The nurses then closed a further three beds in each ward and are now hiding the mattresses of closed beds to ensure that their action will not be undermined again.

The government is ignoring the pay claim and last week ANF members voted to escalate action by closing one in three beds. Many are ready to walk off the job.

Public support for the nurses is growing as it becomes clear that they are not being "greedy" (as the government claims), but are victims of the escalating health crisis.

The state government blames the federal government, and the federal government blames the state. Neither will acknowledge that the funding cuts from both levels of government have led to the waiting list for elective surgery ballooning to 15,000 — a two-year wait. The recently opened Joondalup Hospital has had to cancel all elective surgery because its annual budget has already been spent. Larger public hospitals are pushing back surgery dates.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.