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Vic nurses defy court ruling

Nurses continue their industrial action in protracted dispute with the Victorian government.

Nurses have defied Federal Court orders to cease all unprotected industrial action, vowing to continue work stoppages at 15 hospitals across the state.

Secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation (Victoria), Lisa Fitzpatrick, said the union would continue to argue for a negotiated solution. She said the union did not want the action to spread state-wide and had asked nurses to hold off on further work bans.

“We want the Baillieu government to come to the table as suggested by the Federal Workplace Minister Bill Shorten, go to an independent umpire and get the dispute fixed,” she told Nursing Review.

“At the core of the dispute it is about maintaining our nurse-patient ratios. Our nurses are not going to sit back and allow their jobs to go and their standard of care to deteriorate in Victorian public hospitals.”

On February 28, the Federal Court ruled that the ANF should cease all industrial action and return to work. Justice Richard Tracey also ordered the union to update its members on the decision via social networking sites.

The union said it had passed on the court order to nurses but would stand-by members who were committed to continuing the action. Nurses defying the court order risk individual fines of up to $6600, while the union risks a fine of up to $33,000.The court order also included the threat of imprisonment.

Fitzpatrick said while the union had insisted there be no escalation of the current work stoppages, the action was expected to continue at all 15 hospitals that had experienced stoppages so far.

Federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten has urged the Victorian government to submit the dispute to private arbitration. Shorten has offered to allocate a senior Fair Work Australia commissioner to oversee the arbitration.

The union was waiting to receive a revised proposal from the Victorian Hospitals' Industrial Association at the time of press.

-With AAP

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