Better deal at Dalcross

Nurses opt for union collective agreement

A 7% pay rise over the next two years and 12 weeks’ paid maternity leave are among improvements won by Dalcross Private Hospital nurses through a union collective agreement.

The increase will be paid to the 150 nurses in two 3.5% instalments. The first instalment will be paid from January 2008 with the second a year later in 2009.

Dalcross, an independently owned hospital at Killara on Sydney’s North Shore, will also pay an education allowance for postgraduate qualifications and introduce the endorsed enrolled nurse classification.

With guidance from the NSW Nurses’ Association, Dalcross nurses set up a seven-member bargaining committee representing all departments of the hospital to negotiate with their employer.

Committee member Heather Henderson, a clinical nurse specialist, said the improvements gained under the union collective agreement were superior to the private hospital award and would not require nurses to trade off any existing conditions.

Heather said introduction of the EEN classification meant suitably qualified enrolled nurses would now get extra pay for their extra qualifications.

‘Nurses opted for a union collective agreement (UCA) as the best way of gaining further improvements, and the hospital agreed to that,’ Heather said.

‘The negotiating committee distributed information about the advantages of a union collective agreement around the hospital and we got the majority of nurses to sign a piece of paper stating they were happy to have a UCA,’ she said.

‘For me, the biggest advantage of a UCA is that we have someone with us who knows what’s going on in the industry to help us make a new agreement.

‘The union knows what’s going on in other private hospitals and in the public system and they knew how to effectively put our case to the hospital.

‘A UCA also means the union would be allowed into the hospital to represent us if we ever needed them.

‘Before we started negotiating the new agreement we called an open meeting and invited everyone to come and give their views about what ought to be included in the agreement.

‘We also sent around a form which nurses could fill in anonymously to indicate what they wanted.

‘The negotiating committee then met together with union officials to decide which items we thought we could argue for. That was followed by two negotiating sessions with management.

‘Following these negotiations a final copy of the agreement was drawn up and approved by management. The contract was then made available for 10 days for all staff to view and obtain their own copies.

‘This was followed by a seven-day voting period which gave all nursing staff an opportunity to vote for or against the agreement.

‘The staff and management with the help of industry representatives have negotiated a fair and equitable agreement which is a positive reflection of the commitment and future of Dalcross Private Hospital.’