South West Healthcare nurses wave banners and signs at passing motorists in Warrnambool yesterday.WARRNAMBOOL nurses walked off the job yesterday and will be docked four hours of pay.
Nanjing Night Net

More than 75 nurses at Warrnambool Base Hospital joined their counterparts at hospitals across the state including Ballarat, Geelong and Bendigo in the unprotected action.

Warrnambool Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) member and South West Healthcare nurse Jenny Charles said the strikes would continue every day until the state government came to the negotiating table.

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Ms Charles said one list of surgeries had been affected.

“At no stage has any category one patient’s surgery been cancelled,” she said.

“They are all low-risk highly elective surgeries.”

The nurses started the strike at 8am and returned to work at 11am.

Warrnambool nurse Terry Swanson said the nurses had lost faith and trust in the government.

“We’re into our 119th day,” she said.

“No previous government has treated us with such disdain and disrespect.

“Country nurses can’t trust their word.

“We will be here every morning, we have no other recourse.”

John Smith, a patient from Portland, joined the nurses for the rally and said they needed to stay strong.

Mr Smith was undergoing rehabilitation at the base and said the nurses deserved everything they wanted.

“It’s about patient ratios — it’s not about money,” he said.

“They have wonderful staff here. I can’t complain.

“If they give in now they will never win any other fight in the future.”

Meanwhile Health Minister David Davis has maintained the government’s 2.5 per cent wages policy is reasonable.

“We live in a challenging economic environment across the world … I don’t see people getting very big pay rises generally,” he said yesterday.

“In these times we’ve got to look at the budget and look at the state as well.”

The main sticking point in the negotiations is the watering down of nurse-patient ratios and substituting nurses for nursing assistants.

In a small concession, Mr Davis guaranteed no nurses would be forced to work split shifts under more flexible rostering arrangements that the government is seeking.

The ANF will return to the Federal Court on Friday over nurses’ continued strike action in defiance of a court order.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.