A petition of 40,000 signatures was presented to Minister David Davis, following a march on his office on 16 December. A battle royale is evolving in Victoria as nurses defend their hard-fought-for ratios from a well-organised attack by the Liberal government of Ted Baillieu.
A major confrontation looms in the Victorian health system as the state’s nurses mobilise against the Baillieu Government’s push to abolish nurse/midwife ratios, replace nurses with health assistants and replace eight-hour shifts with split shifts and four-hour shifts.
After nearly 400 hours of fruitless negotiations in enterprise bargaining, as 2011 drew to a close the ANF (Vic) moved to industrial action and community rallies.
The government’s strategy has followed the script outlined in a secret plot signed off by health minister David Davis, in a Cabinet-in-Confidence document dated May last
year, that was leaked to The Age newspaper in November.
According to The Age the Baillieu Government developed a secret plan to goad the state’s nurses into industrial action so it could force them into arbitration, cut nurse numbers and replace them at hospital bedsides with low-skilled ‘health assistants’.
The Victorian cabinet paper detailed a plan to:
- cut the annual nursing budget by $104 million;
- make nurse-to-patient ratios more ‘flexible’;
- replace RNs with low-paid, low-skilled ‘health assistants’;
- introduce shorter shifts and split shifts.
The government estimated these cuts would deliver 4% in savings. In return it would agree to a 3.5% pay rise. By comparison, Victorian police late last year received a 4.7% per annum pay rise.
Nurses won’t trade patients for pay
ANF (Vic) secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick says her members will never trade off patient safety for a pay rise.
‘Working with unlimited health assistants, as part of the existing nurse/patient ratios in acute care with seriously ill patients, is unacceptable. Nurses and midwives have serious concerns that the Baillieu Government fails to recognise that its push to replace nurses with health assistants, and cut their hours, ignores the strong evidence that shows lower qualified nursing numbers are linked to poorer patient outcomes,’ she said.
‘If patient care is compromised – or something goes seriously wrong – it will be the nurse or midwife, who has no control over staffing-level decisions, who must accept the legal responsibility and the legal consequences. It will be the nurse or midwife called before the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the courts.’
Ways you can help:
Register your support and participate in online actions through their Respect Our Work campaign website: www.respectourwork.com.au
Engage in the campaign and spread the word through the campaign’s Facebook page.
Will you show your support for the Victorian nurses?
Image credit: NSWNA