WA nurses have been threatened with deregistration if they continue to carry out work bans over a pay dispute, their union says.
Nurses will go on strike for 24 hours if the State Government does not offer them a 20 per cent pay increase over three years by Monday.
The demand is up from 12.75 per cent, which the nurses previously said they were prepared to accept.
The Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) voted on Friday to keep one in five beds closed at hospitals over the weekend and to wait until Monday to decide if it should take industrial action over wages and conditions.
The union also wants nurses to stop having to perform menial tasks normally done by orderlies and cleaners, and objects to big hikes in parking fees at hospitals.
But the Industrial Relations Commission ordered on Friday that the nurses lift all work bans or risk patient safety.
Health Department director-general Kim Snowball reportedly sent a letter to nurses warning them of the consequences of their actions.
The ANF released the letter and a fact sheet late on Saturday.
“Am I protected if I continue to keep beds closed? No,” the fact sheet reads.
“Is my professional registration at risk if I keep beds closed? Yes.”
The department warned nurses that if they continued their action they also risked suspension from duty, disciplinary action and no indemnity insurance.
“I have issued a direction to ensure that all patients who require a hospital bed for their safety, care and treatment are to be moved to an appropriate hospital bed,” Mr Snowball said in the letter.
ANF state secretary Mark Olson said the prospect of disciplinary proceedings for 10,000 nurses and midwives involved in the current industrial action was preposterous.
“Nurses and midwives have closed beds during industrial campaigns in WA and other states using the same guidelines we are using in this campaign,” he said.
“No nurse or midwife has ever been sacked, suspended, or deregistered for participating in the industrial action of closing beds or going on strike.”
Mr Olson said the health department was trying to frighten nurses and midwives.
“Instead of trying to sort out the pay claim, they are more interested in bullying, harassment, threats and intimidation,” he said.
Premier Colin Barnett had said there was little he could do while the government was in caretaker mode before the March 9 State election.
But Opposition Leader Mark McGowan told reporters on Sunday that under the guidelines of the caretaker convention, an agreement could be reached between the government and the ANF if the opposition was also involved in the discussions.
Mr McGowan wrote a letter to the premier in which he said the dispute was “getting beyond normal election politicking”.He said while he would not enter into a bidding war with the government, any agreement they made with the nurses would be supported by the opposition and implemented if they won the election.
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