Nurses in Western Australia have voted to accept a 14 per cent pay offer over three years, bringing to a halt a month-long campaign over pay and conditions.
The offer from the Coalition government is conditional on them winning the upcoming state election on March 9 and brings to a halt an escalating industrial dispute. Before the deal was made, nurses had started to close one in five hospital beds.
Nurses had stopped non-nursing duties for two weeks prior to attending the vote on February 25, work they say did not directly involve patient care and would normally be performed by orderlies or cleaners before recent job cuts.
These duties included removing rubbish, stripping beds, restocking of stores and trolleys, cleaning equipment and quality assurance activities.
The nurses had originally sought a 20 per cent pay rise over 3 years, far above the state government's offer of approximately 9 per cent over the same period.
Before the vote, ANF state secretary Mark Olson told Nursing Review that nurses were not prepared to accept a 3 per cent a year pay increase that would have left them ranked sixth out of eight states and territories in a national wage comparison.
"We are living in the most expensive state and we are seeing allied health professionals - teachers, police, doctors - their all the highest paid, and nurses want the same outcome."
Looking longer term, Olsen said the state was going to have enormous trouble filling nursing positions.
"I don't believe the two new hospitals slated for opening in the next two or three years will actually open fully because they will not have enough nurses and midwives in those areas. And that's simple. That's not panic, alarm or talk - that's the reality."
By Amie LarterDo you have an idea for a story?
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