Aged care nurses celebrate 25% pay win

Aged care nurses in NSW are celebrating a 25% wage rise over three years, awarded by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission in late March.

Aged care members and the NSWNA waged a hard-fought campaign to win a 25% pay rise over three years, which will be enjoyed by 25,000 aged care nurses in NSW.

The NSWNA took its Fair Share for Aged Care case to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to address low nurse wages, which is creating a staffing crisis in the aged care sector.

The Commission awarded aged care nurses an immediate 6% rise, plus another 6% from 30 March 2006 – on top of previous pay rises of 6% and 5% awarded since the case began in June 2003.

NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes said, ‘Aged care nurses deserve this pay rise. They do valuable work and this was recognised by the Commission decision.

‘The NSWNA’s Fair Share for Aged Care campaign has been hard-fought by aged care members and they are to be congratulated.’

Fair win for AiNS
An important part of the Commission’s decision is awarding AiNs the same percentage pay rise as other categories of nurses, despite employer attempts to give AiNs a lesser rise.’

‘The NSWNA successfully argued that AiNs provide a valuable role and deserve the same pay rise as other nurses,’ said Brett.
AiNS don’t reclassify to CSE

‘Many AINs have approached by their employer asking them to reclassify to Care Services Employees (CSE). AINs are strongly advised to resist pressure from employers to reclassify to non-nursing awards. CSEs will not be eligible for the pay rise or other gains achieved in the paycase that AINs will receive,’ said Brett.

Pay gap reduced
The pay rise reduces the pay gap between aged care nurses and public hospital nurses.

Brett Holmes said: ‘The pay gap was unable to be completely eliminated because of the federal government’s funding policies for aged care. The NSWNA will continue its Fair Share for Aged Care campaign to close the gap in the years ahead,’

‘No capacity to pay’ case dismantledAged care providers argued in the Commission that they could not afford to pay these rises. The NSWNA case proved these claims were incorrect and the Commission’s decision vindicates this.

The NSWNA asked one of the country’s top auditors, Professor Robert Walker, to ascertain the aged care industries capacity to pay a decent wage. He concluded the industry was in a better financial position than they had presented and should be able to afford the pay rise.

‘The NSWNA is on the alert for employers who try to cut nursing hours to offset the pay rise. This is totally unacceptable given they have been unable to prove that they cannot afford the pay rise,’ said Brett.

How much extra will you get?

6% now
AiN $33/wk
EN $40/wk
RN (Year 8) $58/wk

25% between June 2003 and March 2006
AiN $122/wk
EN $149/wk
RN (Year 8) $218/wk