The Guardian August 16, 2000


Victorian nurses' campaign

Victorian nurses last week began a state-wide industrial campaign 
following an unacceptable wages and conditions offer from the Government 
and the Victorian Hospitals Industrial Association (VHIA).

The nurses want an eight percent per year wage increase to bring them in 
line with other public health professionals and an increase in nurse 
numbers.

"Nurses are extremely angry and disappointed that the Government and VHIA 
have got it so wrong", said Australian Nursing Federation State Secretary, 
Belinda Morieson.

Nurses felt they were left with no choice but to embark on a campaign to 
save Victoria's public health system and the profession of nursing.

Beginning last Wednesday, August 9, the campaign  which was voted for 
unanimously by nurses  began with the closure of one in every four 
operational beds in both public hospitals and public nursing homes; the 
closure of one in every four operating theatre sessions; a range of 
comparable actions in district nursing, psychiatric facilities, the blood 
bank and community health centres.

The campaign was sparked by the Bracks Government's failure to carry 
through its pre-election promises to redress the nurses shortage crisis, 
beginning with wage parity.

"Nurses are particularly upset that the Government and VHIA have failed to 
address the issue of pay parity with other public sector health 
professionals", said Ms Morieson.

"Nurses in Victoria have the second lowest level entry salary of any nurses 
in Australia and the lowest entry level rate amongst Victorian health 
professionals.

"They are also angry that the Government and VHIA failed to make an offer 
on the key concerns which both the community and nurses believe are 
essential to high nursing care."

These include:

* lower nurse-to-patient ratios;
* a post-graduate qualification allowance;
* reintroduction of senior nursing positions;
* reintroduction of the 8:8:10 hour rosters;
* rostered day off for full-time staff.

Ms Morieson said it was "a sad day for nurses and Victorians" that the 
nurses were left with no option but to initiate a state-wide industrial 
campaign.

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