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ABC News
ABC News

WA nurses set to reject government pay offer as statewide strike looms

The McGowan government's in-principle pay agreement with nurses and midwives appears all but sunk, with their union now describing it as insulting, and threatening a statewide one-day strike.

Less than two days since coming to the agreement, the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) has done an about turn.

State secretary Janet Reah said the three per cent pay rise and conditions it had agreed to in principle were no longer enough, and they would instead again push for a five per cent raise.

She believed members would vote down the offer, and promised to ramp up industrial action.

"I think it will be swift and decisive action and it will show the government that we mean business," Ms Reah said on Thursday.

"Up until now we've been a bit softly, softly, but now we need to play hardball. The nurses and midwives have had enough."

Nurses and midwives had been due to begin rolling work stoppages on Wednesday.

But that was stopped after the ANF came to the in-principle agreement with the government on Tuesday.

ANF chief executive Mark Olson was then booed by some nurses at the union's annual general meeting, accusing him of failing to properly consult them when they had been about to strike.

Ms Reah said the union had now received thousands of messages from angry nurses and midwives.

"We've heard loud and clear from all the nurses and midwives that they're not happy with this offer," she said.

No workload relief

"They find it insulting.

"It's not going to give the workload relief we desperately need, because we won't be able to attract staff.

"The offer is quite frankly divisive."

"It picks out some levels of nursing over others. Senior nurses are completely left out."

Voting on the offer begins on Friday and closes Tuesday.

If it is voted down, Ms Reah said she would support members 100 per cent and "we would be looking at a statewide one-day strike for all nurses and midwives".

Premier Mark McGowan urged them to stick with the deal.

"It is a terrific arrangement that we've reached cooperatively," he said.

"And I just want it to be put in place and we move on."

Disapproval of union comments

The union and the Government were now heading back to the Industrial Relations Commission.

Ms Reah said on Friday afternoon the Government wanted the workplace relations umpire to stop the vote due to concerns over her comments that the offer was "insulting " and "divisive".

"They said that my opinion would sway the members," Ms Reah said on Friday.

"I've been accused of not selling the government's rubbish offer to the nurses and midwives and my response was 'I'm not going to lie to my members'.

"The members have spoken very loudly so far and decided they don't like the offer."

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