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Liberal-Labor hypocrisy on nurses’ dispute

19 October 2007

“Victoria’s nurses are fighting three enemies: the state Labor government, the hospital administrations, and the federal Coalition government,” Margarita Windisch, lead Socialist Alliance candidate for the Victorian Senate and a former health worker said today.

“The decision by Premier John Brumby to use the full force of Work Choices against Victoria’s nurses demonstrates once again that the Labor Party is capable of being just as anti-worker and pro-business as the Coalition parties when it is in government.”

Windisch said: “Nurses report that this is the first time in many years that hospital administrations have been so intimidating towards them for implementing work bans. Individual nurses are being hauled into offices and interviewed to determine if they have engaged in industrial action such as closing beds, wearing campaign T-shirts and badges or refusing to complete administration. This is because managers have access to such draconian laws as Work Choices.

“If Brumby was serious about opposing Work Choices, the state Labor government would defy the federal government by refusing to use these laws against the nurses and refusing to dock nurses four hours pay for every day they participate in industrial action.

“But Federal Workplace Relations minister, Joe Hockey’s hypocritical point scoring against the Labor Party on October 18 was just sickening. This is the minister who implements Work Choices and then claims to support the Victorian nurses. It’s farcical electioneering opportunism.

“Unfortunately even the federal Labor Party provides little hope, as they will keep most of the sections of Work Choices that are presently being used by Brumby’s government against the nurses.”

Windisch said, “Socialist Alliance candidates have pledged that the Socialist Alliance will do whatever it can to support the nurses’ campaign. The nurses are fighting for all of us by fighting for an adequately staffed public hospital system.

“ The nurses are also giving a lead to other workers by showing that workers shouldn’t allow Work Choices to deter them from taking industrial action when it is needed. The nurses are showing that Work Choices can be defied. And there is nothing the government can do about it if the public gives them support,” she concluded.

For media comment: Margarita Windisch (Senate candidate) 0438-869-790; Jeremy Smith (Senate candidate and Ballart University NTEU president) 0429-334-938; Ben Courtice (candidate for Gellibrand) 0413-580-706; Chris Johnston (candidate for Corio); Zane Alcorn (candidate for Wills) 0401-466-831

Email us at: victoria@socialist-alliance.org

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