The essay "Industrial Action by the Australian Nurses Federation (ANF): Challenges and Gains" describes that the nurse to patient ratio is beneficial to various nursing cadres who do no trust the government for protection against pressure from increased workload. …
For several years, Australian nurses under the auspices of the ANF have engaged the government in extensive industrial action with an aim of improving their professional status, enhancing individual career progress within the profession and increased wages among other issues. Since November 2011, the nurses, psychiatric nurses and midwives of the ANF Victorian branch have undertaken a protected industrial action to oppose the Baillieu administration policy aimed at reducing the number of registered nurses and replacing them with health assistants. The purpose of this paper is to examine the gains and problems encountered by the ANF Victorian nurses following the industrial action. Historical background of the ANF Victoria nurses industrial action The recent industrial action by the ANF Victorian branch nurses, mental health nurses and midwives has created a major standoff between healthcare workers and the Baillieu government. However, the disagreement did not start recently. The issues under controversy began in the 1990’s as a result of the healthcare policies under the Kennett administration which resulted to high departure of nurses due to poor motivation (Budgen 2011.). The situation was further worsened in 2000 following introduction of a nurse to patient ratio of 1 nurse for every four patients which was meant to be legally enforced. At first, this move was considered beneficial by the nurses as it was intended to be accompanied by an increase in wages for the nurses. The proposal for nurse to patient ratio was also believed to be beneficial to various nursing cadres who did no trust the government and were therefore looking for protection against pressure from increased workload (Benner, Chesla and Tanner 2009). The ANF has played a leading role in the struggles by the nurses against a hostile environment and the declining union spirit at the international level. The nurse-patient ratios were viewed as a sign of a common achievement by the nursing workforce that was initially underrated and dominated by female workers. There has a been a protracted struggle between the nursing profession and the government over calls for improved compensation and working conditions, better career structures and protection and improvement of the nursing roles and skills (Bickley 1997).The ANF’s Victorian chapter has been credited for its exemplary role in listening and addressing the concerns voiced by its members while putting the patient interests into consideration. One of the prominent philosophies by the ANF Victoria branch is its opposition to the government policy to replace nurses with lower paid health assistants. Despite the potential gains, the proposed nurse to patient ratio policy created some problems for the nursing profession. One of the major problems emerging from the policy was its improper costing structure which did not reflect interests of the nurses and the patients. ...
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