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Bandt moves bill to resolve nurses dispute

Greens MP and workplace relations spokesperson Adam Bandt says the nurses dispute could be resolved if the Gillard government backs his Fairer Bargaining Bill to be introduced into Parliament on Monday.

Mr Bandt says that workers in essential services, like nurses, are unfairly disadvantaged because their rights to take industrial action are limited and Fair Work Australia is barred from arbitrating on key issues such as nurse/patient ratios.

The Greens' Fair Work (Job Security and Fairer Bargaining) Amendment Bill will also limit the ability of powerful employers, such as Qantas, ability using lockouts as a legal tactic and require Fair Work to consider job security as well as productivity in making decisions.

"If my bill passes, the Baillieu government's attack on nurse/patient ratios will be stopped dead in its tracks and Fair Work Australia could resolve the issue."

"As an industrial lawyer for over a decade, you can spot when a powerful employer is stringing out negotiations because they think they'll get a better outcome before a legally hamstrung Fair Work Australia. That's exactly what the Baillieu government is doing."

"Employers like the Victorian Government have a double advantage under the Fair Work Act. First, people like nurses have fewer rights to take industrial action because they work in an essential service. Second, if the dispute ends up in arbitration, legal barriers mean the tribunal will only deal with some issues and won't impose outcomes like nurse/patient ratios."

"As a result, the Government is dragging its feet in the negotiations, hoping to somehow force the dispute to arbitration. Nurses are stuck in an impossible Catch 22, where if they take industrial action nurse/patient ratios disappear, but if they don't take industrial action, the dispute doesn't get resolved."

"We now have the unacceptable situation where the dispute is dragging on, nurses are in such despair that they're considering resigning, and yet the negotiations are going nowhere. This dispute needs to be fixed."

"Minister Shorten should not wait until the Fair Work Review finishes. Labor could help resolve the dispute preserve nurse/patient ratios tomorrow if they back my bill."


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