Mental health workers will step up their industrial campaign today, beginning with rolling stoppages at hospitals at Geelong and Shepparton.
Psychiatric nurses and other mental health staff at 90 hospitals across the state will stop work for two hours twice a day, in a bid to secure a six per cent pay rise.
A spokesman for the State Government says the Government is committed to reaching a new agreement as soon as possible.
But the Victorian secretary of the Health and Community Services Union (HACSU), Lloyd Williams, says seven months of stalled negotiations have left members with no other choice.
“The Government is not focused on the key issues in our mental health services and that’s been a real concern to us,” he said.
“So these 90 stoppages over the next 23 days are designed to bring to a head the issues we’ve been seeking to negotiate.”
Mr Williams says the sector has staff shortages in the acute in-patient units.
“We struggle on a daily basis to try and fill the shifts of those 20, 25, 30 bed acute units which also operate high dependency units for people who become quite severely disturbed,” he said.
“When you can’t fill your shifts, you then rely on casual and agency staff who have less experience and less knowledge of the service system and it means that patients don’t get the sort of individualised treatment that they need to put them on a path of recovery.”
He denies suggestions they were influenced by the industrial campaign waged by the state’s nurses.
“Mental health services are very different, however we are just as frustrated I would have to say, after seven months of negotiations,” he said.