Sunday, February 24, 2013

Support the WA Nurses Strike!

The 10,000 nurses and midwives involved in industrial action across Western Australia have been threatened with disciplinary action and deregistration by the state’s Director General if they go ahead with a planned 24 hour strike on Monday. The industrial dispute, which for the first time in 12 years has seen the closure of beds across the state’s public hospitals, is set to intensify in the coming week as the State Government continues to ignore nurses’ demands on wages and conditions.

The Barnett Liberal government has claimed that it cannot negotiate with the nurses’ union while acting as a ‘caretaker’ government ahead of the March 9 state election. ANF WA secretary Mark Olson has challenged the premier’s claim, accusing the state government of refusing to meet with the union for months, and promising to make nurses pay a key battle ground for the upcoming state election.

Despite Western Australia being the most expensive state to live in, wages for WA nurses have fallen to now stand 6th behind most of Australia’s states and territories. To alleviate this margin, the ANF is demanding from the government a 20% pay increase over the next three years. The Liberal government has previously set a limit to pay increases to 3% yearly, which Mr Olson claims will not even keep up with the rate of inflation, and will consequently mean a further cut in nurses’ wages. Other issues relating to working conditions and charging nurses for staff parking ($20/day at Midland Hospital) are other important points of dispute.

In face of the ongoing unwillingness of the Liberal government to act on this issue, the ANF is calling on all its members to stand up against the increasing efforts by the Director General’s office to intimidate the union, and to make Monday a strong message that the nurses will not allow this issue to stand idle, but rather the campaign will continue to grow until a decent wage is won.

For more details visit the ‘WA Nurses Shake the Tree’ Facebook page.

[This solidarity message was written by Socialist Alliance member and nursing student Chris Jenkins.]