Tensions are mounting among WA Nurses Union members after chief executive Mark Olson agreed to end strike action and accept the state government’s latest offer on wages and conditions.
- Nurses say they feel “abandoned” after the strike ends
- You will be offered an annual salary increase of 3 percent
- Union members will vote on the offer next week
Meanwhile, the police union is threatening to escalate their industrial action.
Mr Olson, who led a month-long campaign for nurses to get a better deal, was booed by hundreds of Australian nurses’ associations [ANF] Members at a meeting late yesterday after he indicated an agreement would be reached on the ongoing pay dispute.
Ongoing strikes in hospitals were due to start today before Mr Olson canceled them at the eleventh hour.
The meeting with nurses and midwives, described by Mr Olson as “largely hostile”, took place at Fiona Stanley Hospital just three hours after he agreed to cancel the industrial action.
“We booed Mark when he walked in because we really felt let down,” Sister Mary told ABC Radio Perth.
“We were encouraged by the ANF to move towards strikes. And then we were told, really without consultation, that we are not on strike and that we have no say.”
Far from 10 percent
The campaign began in earnest last month by calling for a 10 percent annual salary increase and the introduction of a nurse-patient ratio.
Ongoing shutdowns at hospitals were due to begin today, with hundreds of nurses planning not to show up for work.
The state government agreed to introduce patient quotas over two years but refused to back down on wages.
On the table is a 3 percent annual salary increase for those earning more than $104,000, or $3,120 per year for those earning less, plus a one-time payment of $3,000; a far cry from the union’s original demand for 10 percent.
However, with the Industrial Relations Commission breathing down his neck, Mr Olson accepted the offer.
He said it was “the best deal” the government could give nurses.
“I will always tell members what they need to know. I’m not going to tell members what they want to hear,” he told ABC Radio Perth.
The government’s latest offer includes expanding a grant to senior nurses, capped at $1,200 per year.
“Is this the best possible deal? Yes,” said Mr Olson.
The union leader said he was “confident” that ANF members would vote to accept the agreement if a vote was taken within the next week.
However, many nurses and midwives have expressed their opposition and the union’s social media pages have been inundated with comments disagreeing with the decision.
Police union threatens to escalate
Western Australia is also facing industrial action on another front, with the police union threatening to escalate their dispute.
WA Police Union President Mick Kelly called the government’s first pay and job offer for police officers “disrespectful”.
“We gave them a clear mandate that we want a second offer by Friday,” he said.
“It has to be a lot better than the first offer because it was utterly shameful.”
It comes amid the police union’s “Action Month,” which has included officers avoiding work-related calls after hours and working only at set times.
Mr Kelly has threatened to tell union members to block speed cameras and avoid imposing fines for low-level traffic offenses if a “suitable” offer is not made.
“We will consider other measures we can take to try to bring the government to the table,” he said.
Deputy Police Commissioner Kylie Whitely said the community remains “safe” despite the industrial action.
“I do [not]and have yet to see community safety issues as a result of what the police are currently doing,” she said.
“In terms of police officers blocking speed cameras, of course officers will still be on the road to reinforce road safety… it will still deter and ensure lawful behavior on the road.”