The Guardian 9 March, 2005

Are nurses terrorists?

Following the news that two cancer patients had died after waiting several months for surgery, nurses at a major city hospital decided to take industrial action. The situation had reached crisis point with long waiting lists, patients being sent home too early, a serious shortage of nurses, and those left working under highly stressful conditions. Several wards and a number of beds had been closed due to lack of funding. For the past two years their union had been trying to meet with the government and regional health authorities over the funding question, but to no avail.

The aim of the action was to create public awareness and exert pressure on the state government for an increase in funding. The union warned the government prior to the action and sent out a press release when they placed a ban on overtime, knowing that this would result in bed closures and procedures being postponed. The union believed that serious injury to some of the patients might occur but thought that this would be very minor compared to the number of patients who had suffered over the last two years or would otherwise suffer in the future.

According to the law it would appear that the nurses committed an act of terrorism. Firstly, they engaged in a protest for a political purpose and they did this by trying to coerce the government. It could be claimed their action caused a "serious health and safety risk". The union also committed a terrorist act when it warned the government of the bans if additional funding was not agreed to threatening to commit a terrorist act is a terrorist act under the law. Likewise the distribution of the press release is against the law.

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