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Nurses plan industrial action over pay and staffing


Public hospital nurses are set to take stop-work action from the end of the month as their union pushes for higher pay and staffing levels.

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Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation president Elizabeth Dabars confirmed she will meet with members at the Lyell McEwin this afternoon, after an earlier meeting with Royal Adelaide Hospital nurses this week.

Enterprise bargaining negotiations have been ongoing since June, with the current agreement expiring last month, but the Government is yet to put forward a pay offer.

“I’m going out to talk to members about enterprise bargaining [and] what progress has been made with the EB so far,” Dabars told InDaily.

“People are resolving that our aim will be to try and encourage the employer to come to the table with something concrete… we’re now meeting with our members to sort through the next steps, and the next steps do involve a resolution regarding stop-work meetings.”

The stop-work action would likely take place from late this month, with Dabars insisting patient safety won’t be compromised.

“We have a policy position that we want to keep patients safe when we engage in these events,” she said.

“We’ll be making sure there’s adequate and appropriate staff in order to meet the care needs of patients and we’re not putting patient care at risk.”

She said issues around nurses’ safety – including appropriate ‘safe staffing’ levels – was an key area of concern besides pay.

“There’s been a number of things [the Government] have put forward that we’re rejecting, and a number of thing we’re putting forward that they’re rejecting,” she said.

But she conceded pay was central to the discussions “as a concept… because we to need to attract and retain nurses and midwives”.

“But they’ve not put forward a pay offer at this time,” she said.

Treasurer Rob Lucas, who oversees enterprise bargaining matters, said it was “very early stages [of negotiations] to be pursuing stop-work action”.

“I would have thought it’s early days in relation to taking industrial action, but that’s a judgement call for them,” he said.

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