A resolution to the ongoing wage dispute between the state government and health unions could be found this week.
It comes as members of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmania Branch postponed a ban on elective surgeries at the Mersey Community Hospital, as a sign of goodwill to ensure patient care was not compromised.
Meanwhile, theatre nurses at the Launceston General Hospital are continuing to hold weekly stop work meetings, along with a ban on overtime and double shifts, as part of the public sector industrial campaign.
Health Minister Michael Ferguson had criticised the unions for undertaking “reckless” industrial action he claimed was impacting on patient care.
However, ANMF Tasmania branch secretary Emily Shepherd said members never intended to impact patient care – evident by the period of notice given for the industrial action.
“The Tasmanian Government and the Tasmanian Health Service were notified of this resolution on November 28, 2018, to ensure that any patient that required urgent category one elective surgery could be listed at an alternate theatre across the state,” she said.
“Ironically, in the last week the Tasmanian Government has vilified ANMF members for undertaking industrial action that may have led to a small number of elective surgeries needing to be re-scheduled, despite hundreds of Tasmanians being overdue for the elective surgery and hundreds more yet to make the elective surgery wait lists – some of which are the worst in the country.
“Instead of focusing on the issues at hand, that of protecting the nursing and midwifery professions and the broader Tasmanian Health System - the Tasmanian Government have instead strategically chosen to condemn the actions of the very nurses who are keeping patients safe.”
Mr Ferguson said the government’s formal offer to the union provided for a 6 per cent pay rise over three years, plus improved terms and conditions.
“The government has been negotiating in good faith with unions, including the ANMF, for months,” he said.
“There is another negotiation meeting with the ANMF planned for later this week and that’s where industrial issues should be worked out, not in hospitals and operating theatres.
“The government has always believed Tasmania’s hardworking health staff deserve a pay rise, but it must be fair, reasonable and affordable so we can continue to invest in healthcare for Tasmanians.”
A negotiation meeting is scheduled for Thursday.