Tuesday 23rd September 2008
Want a pay increase?
… it’s in your hands
Many facets of WorkChoices are likely to remain. This means negotiations with private hospital employers – now under way – will be carried out in a WorkChoices environment.
With many private hospital union agreements expiring in September or October, NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes says pay talks will be conducted in the transition period between WorkChoices and the Rudd Government’s new IR laws.
‘That means we can’t be complacent and think that WorkChoices is gone and the employers will welcome our claim with open arms,’ he said.
‘If the experience of employees in other industries – Telstra and Qantas being high profile examples, as well as for many nurses in aged care – some employers will take advantage of what laws are available to them to stop people acting together to improve their wages and conditions.’
So far, the three major employers of private hospital nurses in NSW – Ramsay, Healthscope and Healthe Care – have indicated to the NSWNA they are prepared to negotiate Union Collective Agreements.
‘To achieve our goals of parity with the public health system in wages and conditions we have to be organised with branches in as many private hospitals as possible and strong communication networks,’ said Brett.
Private hospitals industry claims
Agreements in private hospitals will be negotiated employer by employer, but the industry claim that will be tailored by members as bargaining starts with your employer, is:
What you can do to help
Not all ‘collective agreements’ are good for you
Private hospital nurses can learn from their colleagues in aged care. In that sector some employers have avoided negotiating with employees through their union by ambushing staff with an ‘employee collective agreement’.
Union Collective Agreements deliver higher pay increases and better working conditions
A Union Collective Agreement (UCA) is the only reliable way to improve private hospitals nurses’ wages and conditions if you are covered by the federal industrial relations system.
Nothing ‘collective’ about Employee Collective Agreements
There is a second type of collective agreement that makes union involvement difficult called an Employee Collective Agreement (ECA).
Protect yourself against employer trickery
Until all aspects of WorkChoices are overthrown – and this could take until 2010 – it is important that we are on guard against employer tactics aimed at weakening our ability to improve wages and conditions. Here are some signs to look for that your employer is getting organised:
Sign What to do
Your employer is asking you to complete a survey that asks questions about your workplace and possible changes.
Suddenly there are a lot of visits by Human Resources or your owner
Maybe they’re just taking an interest in the place. Maybe not. Call the Association and ask for information about Union Collective Agreements to be sent to your workplace.
‘It’s important to push for a Union Collective Agreement so you have the union behind you when you’re negotiating your new agreement.’
Linda Jennings, RN, Hills Private Hospital
‘I don’t think many private hospital nurses know how vulnerable they are. When the current agreements expire we could lose all our hard fought conditions. Nurses in the private sector need to build membership to hold on to those conditions.’
Jan Shanks, RN, Hills Private Hospital
‘We often feel isolated in the private sector. It’s important to get organised at work and build the membership so you are not alone negotiating with management.’
Jillian Thurlow, EEN, Lake Macquarie Private Hospital
‘I think the key issues are the retention of experienced ENs and, obviously, parity with the public sector. Given the profits in the private sector, why are we having to fight for parity? We should be setting the benchmark. Workloads are always an issue, especially given the use of skeleton staffing.’
Jane Cooper, RN, Figtree Private Hospital