A theatre nurse who has worked at the Launceston General Hospital for the past 14 years said front-line staff remained united in their fight for pay parity.
LGH workplace representative Tenille Cottam was among Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmania branch members from operating theatres, who walked off the job for two hours at all four of the state’s major hospitals on Thursday.
As wage negotiations between the ANMF and state government enters its eighth month, Ms Cottam said staff continued to band together.
“It’s so important for us to fight for this cause,” she said.
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“If we don’t start to act now, then the future looks a little bit dire in terms of attracting people to our state.
“Especially when the average nurse is earning $10,000 less then their mainland counterparts.
“We are just aiming for parity in that respect and the ultimate prize is retaining, recruiting and having the right number of nurses working.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson dismissed the stop work meetings, accusing union bosses of using patients as pawns in industrial action.
“It’s unfortunate where we see union bosses telling nurses to walk off the job and leave patients in the lurch,” he said.
“It’s not fair to patients. I don’t support, nor accept this industrial action.
“The fact is that the government has made a formal offer a number of times to the union, and it is just a matter of regret that the union hasn’t felt it possible to allow its members to vote on that in a secret ballot.”
Labor health spokeswoman Sarah Lovell said she was not concerned that the action would compromise patient safety.
“This is not a decision that the nurses and midwives take lightly,” she said.
“This is a position that they have been pushed into by the government.”
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