Nurses Continue Action After Rejecting Renewed Pay Deal

Members on May 17 closed one in four hospital beds and cancelled some surgeries for about eight hours because of the industrial dispute.
Nurses Continue Action After Rejecting Renewed Pay Deal
Nurses and members of the health sector rally outside NSW Parliament House in Sydney, Australia, on Feb. 15, 2022. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
AAP
By AAP
5/20/2024
Updated:
5/20/2024
0:00

Thousands of Victorian nurses and midwives are continuing to stage industrial action after rejecting a renewed pay offer from the state government.

The “no” vote came as a surprise to their union leaders, who had struck an in-principle agreement with the government late on Friday.

Workers had been offered a wage boost of 18 to 23 percent over four years, Victorian branch secretary Liza Fitzpatrick said.

She said members wanted more certainty about exactly how much they would receive, and would wait to see the outcome of a related case before the Fair Work Commission.

“The real issue is the percentage increase and people will need to have concrete information as to the aged care case and the outcome that provides for them,” Ms. Fitzpatrick said.

The union leader said she respected the decision and would return to negotiations with the state government.

Members on May 17 closed one in four hospital beds and cancelled some surgeries for about eight hours because of the industrial dispute.

It’s unclear whether they will once again close beds, but members remain in stage one of their industrial action.

It involves not completing paperwork, refusing to work overtime and wearing union T-shirts at work.

The federation previously rejected a three percent pay rise with an annual $1500 payment.

A government spokesperson said there are hopes a resolution will be reached as soon as possible.

Several other prominent unions are negotiating agreements and have staged industrial action in the past 12 months.

The state’s ambulance union remains locked in negotiations over its new deal and is in the first stage of industrial action, with members due to vote on additional action in the coming weeks.

Regional train line workers staged more than half a dozen strikes earlier in 2024, while speed camera operators who work for Serco walked off the job for 24 hours in January.

The police association called off action in late 2023 after the force committed to addressing shift lengths and ticked off a 1.75 percent “goodwill” pay rise, with negotiations continuing.

The Victorian government has capped pay rises across the public sector at three percent.