Full support for the Victorian nurses

Victorian nurses are standing strong against bullying and facing the risk of hefty fines as their dispute with the State Government over pay and conditions continues. The Victorian Hospitals Industrial Association (hospital managers) will take the dispute to the Federal Court today in a further bid to lift the work bans that are in place.

So far the nurses have refused to lift the bans which include the closure of over 1000 hospital beds and more than 500 elective surgery cancellations. Even after the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) ruled in favour of the Victorian Government to stop the action yesterday, the nurses are refusing to buckle.

The Victoria Labor government has used a section of John Howard’s Work Choices legislation (section 496) in an attempt to stop the industrial action. The orders were effective from 7am on Monday October 22.

The union has rejected the Brumby Government’s pay offer of 3.25 per cent per year over five years and is calling for the maintenance of nurse patient ratios. The pay offer means Victorian public sector and mental health nurses will remain the lowest paid in Australia. Our nurses deserve much more.

Victoria is also the only state in Australia with nurse patient ratios. The Brumby Government wants to give managers the discretion to staff under the current ratios. Anyone who has had to go to hospital recently will know there is a desperate need for more nurses – not less.

Speaking on radio this morning, Victorian Labor Premier John Brumby also indicated his support for the Federal Court action. He said “The law is the law, and we are taking steps to ensure the law is enforced’’

“The nurses have been given a deadline,” he said. “If they don’t return to work, the action will commence today in the Federal Court.”

If this is the behaviour of a State Labor government we can only imagine how a federal Labor government would treat workers if they were in power!

The point needs to be made to the general public that the nurses are at the fore of fighting for a better health system for all of us and they need our full support. The blame for any deaths or complications that occur during the course of this dispute can be laid at the feet of the Brumby government.

The Socialist Party calls on the Brumby state government to stop the bullying of nurses immediately and to cease all federal court action. Brumby can bring this dispute to an immediate end by meeting the nurses’ just demands.

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