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Allan Government has 14 days to resolve Victorian nurses’ and midwives’ dispute before bed closures start

Allan Government has 14 days to resolve Victorian nurses’ and midwives’ dispute before bed closures start

Victorian public sector nurses and midwives will start protected industrial action on Tuesday 7 May in response to the employers’ and State Government’s failure to make an improved wages and allowances offer.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) members rejected the Allan Government’s wages policy of three percent a year, plus an annual $1500 payment (pro rata for part time) on 21 March.

A statewide ANMF members meeting, held at Moonee Valley Racecourse on Tuesday 30 April, voted to start stage one industrial action next week including: wearing red campaign t-shirts, refusal to work overtime, talking about their campaign to patients, stopping work to post campaign messages on social media, administrative paperwork bans, and hospital in the home and community nurses will write messages on work car windows.

ANMF members have given the Allan Government 14 days to resolve the dispute by delaying stage 2 industrial actions until 7am Friday 17 May. Stage two includes the closure of one in four beds, cancellation of one in four elective surgeries and stop-work meetings.

A statewide members meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 15 May to consider a new offer from the Allan Government or to confirm the start of stage 2 protected industrial action on Friday 17 May.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said ‘Nurses and midwives take industrial action as a last resort when no one is listening to them. These bans will be disruptive and may cause inconvenience, but they will not impact on patient health or welfare.

‘The nursing and midwifery workforce is the backbone of the public health system, but it’s fractured.

‘The Allan Government must get serious about retaining, recruiting and rebuilding our permanent nursing and midwifery workforce.

‘We need a senior decision maker at the negotiating table who understands that workforce casualisation is the cause of our rostering challenges and a significant contributor to hospital budget blowouts.

‘Hospital spending on unrostered and rostered overtime and agency nurses and midwives has doubled over the last four years alone, hospitals could save a bucketload of money if they rebuild their permanent workforce,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.

Department of Health data shows health services spent $291 million on overtime and agency and casual nurses and midwives in 2023. Based on the increasing trend since 2018, ANMF projects the Allan Government will spend in excess of $3 billion on a casual workforce by 2028 (see graph below).

Graph: overtime agency spending in Victorian public sector from 2018.

Graph: overtime agency spending in Victorian public sector from 2018.

‘Reversing the casualisation of the workforce will take a higher and more nuanced package than the government’s blunt three per cent wages policy.

‘If we reverse casualisation and rebuild our permanent nursing and midwifery workforce to 2018 levels, we can fix our health system,’ she said.

‘We need those with authority at the table every day until we get this done; all matters must be resolved by 14 May,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.

ANMF is negotiating the 2024–28 public sector nurses and midwives enterprise agreement, on behalf of 60,000 members working in public acute and aged care services and stand-alone community health centres. The 2020–24 agreement expires on 30 April.

Negotiations are between the ANMF (Vic Branch) and the employers’ representative the Victorian Hospitals’ Industrial Association and are overseen by the Department of Health. There have been 27 full-day meetings since negotiations began in late October 2023.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia registration figures show net growth of more than 16,000 Victorian nurses and midwives over the last five years. The workforce has increased, yet employers cannot fill rosters with predominantly permanent staff because nurses and midwives are reducing their hours and moving from permanent to casual employment.

ANMF members are seeking a range of claims designed to retain, recruit and rebuild our early career and experienced nurses and midwives.

About 30 per cent of a nurse or midwife’s take-home pay consists of allowances on top of the base rate. ANMF is claiming about 15 new or improved financial incentives to reward working additional permanent hours and unpopular shifts, and to retain a permanent workforce.

ANMF is also seeking the introduction of financial disincentives for unpopular employer rostering practices such as redeployment, excessive reliance on overtime and missed meal breaks. Many of the claims, developed and endorsed by ANMF workplace delegates, would only flow to permanent staff.

The ANMF members’ claim does not specify a percentage wage claim, but it does seek that wages and allowances recognise the government’s wages policy, and at the same time address issues such as gender equity, cost of living, retention, increasing permanent employment, interstate/territory competitiveness and other considerations.


  • ANMF members have taken protected industrial action against Labor and Liberal state governments in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2011–12 and 2016 as part of securing a fair enterprise agreement.
  • The protected industrial action ballot of ANMF members opened 5pm Wednesday 17 April and closed 5pm Monday 29 April. It was the largest and most complex electronic ballot of its kind in Australia. Unlike other state and territory health systems which usually have one employer – the state or territory government, the Victorian public health system comprises 106 separate employers. The ANMF industrial action ballot involved 106 separate public sector employers. This required that ANMF members met the Fair Work Act 2009 requirements that at least 50 per cent of eligible ANMF members vote in each of the 106 ballots and more than 50 per cent of those who voted, voted YES. Of those who voted almost 98% voted yes.
  • Victorian public sector nurses’ and midwives’ 2024 EBA log of claims.