7.95% pay rise and campaign continues

Public health system members have voted to accept an offer from the NSW Government that delivers a 7.95% pay rise and the chance to increase night penalty rates and pay for experienced nurses in the IR Commission. The NSWNA is committed to fight for these important claims.

A 7.95% pay increase over two years with the chance to increase night penalty rates and pay for experienced nurses is the central plank of a new wage agreement for public health nurses and midwives.

The first pay increase is effective from the first full pay period in July 2008.

The Agreement was endorsed by a strong majority of NSWNA branches in meetings held throughout the state at the end of June.
NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes said the pay rise is welcome but it is insufficient to solve the recurrent crises in the health system.

‘We have argued long and hard that better pay and conditions for nurses are essential to getting more nurses back into the system.’

‘This means that our Fair Conditions. Fair Pay. Nurses Stay campaign is not over.’

We’ll pursue more in the Commission
Brett Holmes said the NSWNA Council recommended the final offer from NSW Health to members as it was aware of the tough economic circumstances many nurses found themselves in, like many other Australian working families.

‘This Agreement puts money in the pockets of nurses immediately and allows us to pursue more in the Industrial Relations Commission,’ he said.

Brett said accepting the offer was conditional on our right to pursue further increases for night duty and for experienced nurses in the Industrial Relations Commission.

‘It’s an important opportunity for us. It allows us to test our own claims about night duty and pay for experienced nurses before the independent umpire.’

Brett said that very late in the day – after council had made its recommendation and after the majority of branches had voted – the Government offered to extend the Agreement with a 3.9% increase for a third year.

‘But, the Government made the third year conditional on agreeing to a further offset that would have made our claim for experience nurses impossible to run in the Industrial Relations Commission. We rejected this on the basis of what nurses have been telling us in our state wide meetings – no more offsets,’ he said.

Offsets unpopular

Brett said while the overall pay and conditions package was acceptable, individually, the offsets pushed by the department were justifiably unpopular among members.

‘NSW Health took a hard line that there had to be some “employee-related cost savings” in order to meet the Government’s public sector wages policy,’ he said.

‘But many of these measures are just not family friendly. The reduction in the number of ADOs you can accrue does not allow people to accumulate for the school holidays.

‘With the higher grade duties only to be paid after five days acting puts a lot of strain on people. It will be hard to get people to do these jobs if they aren’t paid more.

‘Our fear is that unreasonable workloads issues will get even worse as a result of the offsets. If that is the case we will be diligent in applying the reasonable workloads machinery available to us to neutralise these negative consequences,’ said Brett.

Keep up the fight on night duty

‘Members were ok with the deal once they knew it was only for two years. It’s comforting to know the Association will take the claims for an increased night duty penalty and 3.8% increase for RNs after eight years to the commission.’
Tania Gleeson, RN at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital.

Best offer for now but harder push next time
‘We definitely have to keep the pressure on. It is just an acceptable deal but we know it’s the best we can get at the moment. Next time we go to the table it will be a State Election and we will be able to push harder.’
Gil Wilson, CNS at Lismore Base Hospital.

Good deal but Federal Govt needs to get involved
‘I think the deal is good, you always have to give something back. I’m extremely excited about the CNS and CNE gradings that map out a much better career path. The Federal Government also needs to be involved in the allocation of health resources as there are too many inconsistencies across the states.’
Megan Pusterla, RN at RPA Hospital.