The Tasmanian nurses union claims its members are being “bullied and threatened” into accepting a pay deal.
Nurses have accepted a 2 per cent pay rise over 12 months but are set to take industrial action over certain aspects of the offer.
About 150 nurses at Royal Hobart Hospital have voted unanimously in favour of action.
They have joined their colleagues in the north and north-west in agreeing to claim all overtime and other entitlements, including lunch breaks, and refusing to fill out some hospital forms.
Neroli Ellis of the Nursing and Midwifery Federation says the action will not affect patients.
“Will cost the government tens of thousands of dollars if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra pay,” she said.
“It’s not how we want to go, but if it’s about removing the goodwill then that’s what nurses are deciding to do.”
Ms Ellis says members had agreed to a modest pay rise, but only in exchange for an end to juniors being loaded with managerial workloads.
“Base grade nurses are being required to be in charge of wards, being required to be in charge of rural hospitals in their entirety after hours, that’s not safe.”
The union says the Government is now threatening to take away nurses’ conditions if an amended offer is not accepted.
Bullying claims ‘disappointing’
Matthew Double from the Health and Human Services Department says any claims of bullying are disappointing.
He says the offer of a two per cent wage rise over 12 months does not come with any changes to exisiting conditions.
The Premier, Lara Giddings, says she did not expect an industrial campaign.
“Nurses were very close to accepting two per cent for the next 12 months, and we thought that it would be reasonable if there was no changes to other conditions and the like.”
Opposition Leader Will Hodgman is not saying how he would handle the situation, but is calling for the dispute to be settled quickly.
“The job for the Government is to resolve this matter quickly,” he said.
“Tasmanians will be concerned and very disturbed that this Government is not able to resolve an important issue that goes to the heart of essential services in this state.”
The Finance Minister, Scott Bacon, says there is a reason why the government is playing hardball in the negotiations.
“The Government is under very difficult economic times, and it’s important that we all look to not only work within the budget that we have, but we treat everyone the same.”
Nurses in southern Tasmania are due to join the industrial action from midday.