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WA nurses planning statewide strike after wage negotiations with government break down

WA nurses are planning a state-wide strike on Friday after rejecting the government's latest pay and conditions offer, and are now demanding a five per cent pay rise. 

That deal was met with in-principle agreement from the union last week after it secured increased payments for some nurses, as well as nurse-to-patient ratios with an "enforceability mechanism".

It also includes a $60-a-week pay rise for those earning under $104,000-a-year, or three per cent for those earning more, on top of a $3,000 sign-on bonus.

But it was rejected by Australian Nursing Federation members today in what secretary Janet Reah described as an "emphatic result", with 84 per cent of members voting the offer down.

Ms Reah announced the result to a crowd of members at Fiona Stanley Hospital today and was met with loud cheers and applause.

She said as a result of the vote, members would leave work to gather at Parliament House on Friday.

"We will then march to the office of the Health Minister and we will demand her to speak with us," Ms Reah said.

"We're not going to wait any longer.

"This government needs to know that we are not messing around."

Ms Reah then read to the crowd the letter of rejection that would be sent to the Health Minister.

"We have consulted with the members and the response is that they are not willing to accept the offer," she said.

"As always, myself and the ANF team are available to continue the negotiations."

Gag order defied

The union carried out that vote in defiance of the state's Industrial Relations Commission (IRC), which on Friday ordered it to defer any "ballot, poll or survey" until next Monday.

The Commission also ordered the union could not make comments pushing for a better offer or encourage members to vote against the current deal.

Ms Reah said yesterday the union has flouted those orders because it refused to be "gagged".

"[The government's] not best pleased with our actions over the weekend, but we're not best pleased with the government's treatment of nurses and midwives," she said.

On her way into the IRC for the union's eighth hearing in the current round of negotiations, Ms Reah said she was seeking a five per cent pay rise for all nurses.

That is despite members at a stop work meeting last month voting for the union to ask the government for a 10 per cent pay increase – a figure it has since suggested would be unrealistic. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said the government stood by its most recent offer.

"This week's ANF ballot does not conform to the orders made by the WA Industrial Relations Commission," he said.

"The government urges the ANF against any proposed industrial action that impacts patient safety.

"The state government remains committed to the agreement it reached with the ANF in the WA Industrial Relations Commission on November 15, 2022, which will deliver improved wages and conditions for nurses.

"The state has been bargaining in good faith and will continue to abide by the processes underway in front of the WAIRC."

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