The Australian Nursing Federation (VIC) will hold a stop-work meeting on Wednesday to plan its next move in the long-running dispute.
Nurses should think carefully before they wager their jobs on a "drastic" union campaign, the body representing Victorian public hospitals has said.
Nurses are threatening to resign en masse as wrangling over a new workplace deal continues ahead of a stop-work meeting on Wednesday.
But they have been warned they may not be rehired, or risk losing accrued benefits, if they quit as part of the industrial campaign.
Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) Victorian secretary, Lisa Fitzpatrick dismissed the claims as misinformed and inflammatory.
Victorian Hospitals Industrial Association (VHIA) chief executive Alec Djoneff said hospitals dealt with a high turnover of nurses and any who quit to advance the union campaign had "no automatic right to be re-engaged".
"The ANF is running a very significant scare campaign and is basically asking nurses to pit their jobs on the right industrial outcome in negotiations, which is a pretty drastic step for any union to take," Djoneff told AAP.
"The last union that took it - the airline industry in 1989 - most of the pilots never ended up working in Victoria again."
Djoneff said hospitals had contingency plans in place in case of mass resignations but he didn't expect many nurses would actually quit.
Fitzpatrick hit back, saying 14,000 Victorian nurses and midwives quit the public health system in the 1990s after being unhappy with conditions, and thousands came back once nurse-patient ratios were introduced.
"I just wish Mr Djoneff was as committed to fixing the dispute as he is to inflaming it," Fitzpatrick said.
She says thousands of nurses have authorised her to resign on their behalf if the stalemate continues.
"Nurses are not fools, they are intelligent men and women. I am not demanding that anyone resign," she told AAP.
Up to 3000 nurses and midwives are expected to attend Wednesday's stop-work rally in Melbourne to discuss a possible escalation of industrial action after talks with the VHIA and the state government again broke down.
Health Minister David Davis said many nurses were confused about the proposed changes to their working arrangements.
He said their assertion that health services wanted to get rid of nurse-patient ratios was wrong.
"All health services are seeking is flexibility to respond to peaks and troughs in workload," Davis said in a statement.
Fitzpatrick said the minister's comments were belittling.
"Eight months into this campaign, to state that nurses and midwives don't know what the issues are, is condescending," she said.
"Once again, this will only inflame the situation."
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