Big brother bosses still loom

While some of the largest private hospital employers such as Ramsay, Healthscope and Healthe have indicated to the NSWNA that they are willing to negotiate a Union Collective Agreement, there are a number of smaller employers who seem reluctant to come on board.

Independent Private Hospitals of Australia, which owns Sydney Private Hospital, Longueville Private Hospital and Holroyd Private Hospital, has engaged a Queensland-based ‘employment relations consultancy service’ to determine ‘the desired rates of pay’ for their employees.

Memos to staff are somewhat ambiguous about who the rates are actually desired by.

‘The hospital has asked an independent consulting firm to examine the wage rates of nurses in the private and public sector and make recommendations about what adjustments should be made in our facilities,’ said IPHA Director of Operations Grace Collier in one memo
to staff.

‘Once the desired rates are determined, we will be holding discussions with staff about how we can best formalise the new wage rates in an agreement.’

NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes says IPHA are clearly not interested in genuine talks with their staff or the union about negotiating a pay rise.

‘There is no real consultation with staff going on here. The employer is unilaterally deciding the rate of pay and hiding behind the mask of a so called independent IR company that, apparently, sets it.’

In the memo to staff, Grace Collier indicated that the company would ‘meet and confer with the union about the agreement’.
Brett Holmes says IPHA employees should not be fooled into thinking that this means there is good faith bargaining being undertaken by the employer.

‘“Meet and confer” is the basic requirement the employer must undertake by law. It doesn’t necessarily mean there will be any genuine negotiations over pay and conditions,’ he said.

Grace Collier is a founder of the firm Industrial Relations Consulting in Queensland (see story next column).

‘Industrial Relations Consulting works to restore the balance of power in the workplace; we put employers in the driver’s seat,’ the company boasts on its website.

One of IRC’s services is baldly stated on its website: ‘Deunionisation of workplace’. (http://irelations.com.au/services.html)