NURSES and midwives at South West Healthcare could be asked to take four-hour stoppages as talks with the state government remain deadlocked.
Nanjing Night Net

More than 3000 nurses and midwives, including 22 from the south-west, voted in favour of industrial action yesterday — the latest move in their three-month battle for better pay, conditions and staffing levels.

The meeting was held to discuss the progress of their enterprise bargaining negotiations since they last met on December 16.

Warrnambool Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) member and South West Healthcare nurse Jenny Charles said nurses at select health facilities around the state would take four-hour stoppages from tomorrow until the government was willing to negotiate.

“Nurses will walk out and leave skeleton staff on the ward,” she said.

“(South West Healthcare) will become involved as needed.

“We’re taking unprotected action and if nothing happens, further facilities will become involved.

“Our patients have been looked after and we’re very conscious of our obligation to them.”

She said federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten addressed the crowd at Festival Hall, saying he did not understand why the dispute was still unresolved.

Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne a private arbitration agreed between the parties would be a “circuit-breaker”.

“We certainly don’t want anyone taking any unprotected industrial action,” he said.

“We certainly don’t want this talk of resignations to be anything more than just talk.

The Australian Nursing Federation has said it had the permission of thousands of nurses to resign on their behalf.

The ANF Victorian branch also revealed yesterday it would seek urgent Fair Work Act amendments to resolve technical legal issues unique to the dispute, which have enabled the government to control negotiations “while operating outside the law’s good faith bargaining provisions”.

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