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Tasmanian nurses and midwives plan industrial action

Neroli Ellis
Photo: ANMF Tasmanian branch secretary Neroli Ellis
Tasmania’s nurses and midwives will remove goodwill in their planned industrial action as the state government considers introducing a public sector wage freeze.

The move comes after the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s (ANMF) Tasmanian branch recently met with members across the state to endorse a log of claims, as it prepares to negotiate a new EBA for public sector nurses and midwives.

The ANMF is also joining forces with other unions to hold ‘bust the budget’ rallies on August 28 at Parliament House in Hobart and on September 4 at both Devonport and Launceston.

ANMF branch secretary Neroli Ellis said members will put a halt to unpaid administration work in hospitals from August 25, in a move designed to put pressure on the system without impacting on patients.

“If you take the goodwill of nurses and midwives out of the system, it will put a lot of pressure on the system, particularly around the admin - computer entries, computerised admission systems, etcetera, so potentially they may have to employ more admin staff after hours,” she told abc.net.au.

Ms Ellis was unavailable for comment at the time of publication but the branch’s website states the government’s proposed wage freeze amounts to a “real wage cut” for nurses and midwives.

“Inflation and the price of goods and services continues to rise and your salary buys less over time - the value of what you earn is cut,” it states.

The government has proposed a one-year wage freeze for all public servants, followed by a move to two per cent increases, in a bid to save $50 million a year and safeguard around 500 jobs.

The freeze will take affect when the legislation passes both houses of the Tasmanian parliament, which the union fears could occur as soon as October.

“The government has the constitutional power to rip up contracts with its public sector workers through legislation,” the ANMF branch states.

“It’s a radical unprecedented action but if they can get special legislation through both houses of state parliament, then they have the ultimate power over your wages and conditions.”

The branch is also fighting legislation, which has already passed the Lower House, that aims to outlaw reasonable protest action.

The union states the new legislation includes penalties such as $10,000 on-the-spot fines and three-month mandatory jail terms for disrupting workplaces.

“We’re seeking legal advice about the implications of this legislation and what it could mean for ANMF (Tas branch) members and activities in education and training workplaces.”

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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords