This paper explores labour negotiations between nurses and government in the public health sector in Australia between 1996 and 2005. During this period, industrial negotiations between nurses and government in the public health sector moved from centralized wage determinations to agreements made at the level of the enterprise through the Workplace Relations Act 1996. Simultaneously, public sector nurses reported increased work intensification, a result of new public management strategies. This led to the Australian Nursing Federation negotiating enterprise agreements that included the introduction of highly specified workload algorithms in an attempt to de-intensify nurses’ labour. The irony of this strategy is that these calculations and tools operate as both a human resource mechanism for maximizing productivity as well as an industrial relations tool for reducing work intensification.