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.