LRH nurses cease action

LATROBE Regional Hospital nurses have ceased industrial action and returned to work after a major breakthrough in negotiations between the Australian Nursing Federation Victoria branch and the State Government.

The ANF has agreed to cease all industrial activity immediately.

Elective surgeries at the hospital have since resumed, according to LRH chief executive Peter Craighead.

“All surgery has now resumed and we are focusing on working through the backlog as quickly as possible to avoid further inconvenience to patients and their families,” Mr Craighead said in a statement.

“The rolling stoppages over the past week resulted in the cancellation of some elective surgeries.”

He welcomed the news of a breakthrough in the dispute between the ANF and the Victorian Hospital Industry Association over a new enterprise agreement, adding he hoped a resolution would be reached by the new deadline of 16 March so the hospital could return to normal.

ANF Victoria branch assistant secretary Paul Gilbert told The Express parties arrived at an agreement late on Tuesday night during discussions at the Department of Health.

“We had some intensive negotiations to agree to resolve all outstanding issues,” Mr Gilbert said.

“Previously, the government were not prepared to let Fair Work Australia resolve all the issues.

“All the nurses have returned to work now; we’ll go to FWA next week and hopefully have everything resolved by the Friday (16 March) deadline.”

Heralding the development as a positive one, Mr Gilbert said the ANF was confident evidence would be “overwhelmingly convincing” in their favour surrounding key issues like nurse-patient ratios and the proposal of health assistants.

In a statement yesterday, Health Minister David Davis said the parties had agreed to fresh processes for finalising an outcome to the dispute with assistance from FWA, and all employers and the ANF would seek to hold all legal action and options in abeyance.

Statewide, nurses had participated in two four-hour rolling stoppages from last week to protest the impasse with the State Government on several issues, including work conditions, pay, and nurse-patient ratios.

LRH nurses also participated in the actions, in what some had seen as “a last resort”.