Big gains in private hospitals

The NSWNA has secured five new agreements at private hospitals.

The Union has successfully negotiated five new Enterprise Agreements at private hospitals, which see staff better off in terms of pay and conditions.

‘Most of these agreements are the first agreement that these organisations have negotiated,’ said NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes. ‘The process has been excellent. Nurses have seen first-hand the benefit of union membership and have worked together to get good outcomes. In addition, for many it is the beginning of an organising effort that will grow in strength with each subsequent agreement.’

St John of God

At St John of God, staff received a pay increase of 3.9% to wages and allowances backdated to the first pay period commencing on or after 1 July 2009 and a 3.9% increase from the first pay period commencing on or after 1 July 2010. Other benefits include a Continuing Education Allowance for nurses holding Master’s or higher degrees, and a workloads clause that allows nurses to bring staffing issues to the attention of the employer and a requirement that the employer deal with the issue.

Wolper Jewish Hospital

In addition to two pay increases of 3.5% and a one-off bonus of $200 (gross) for full-time nurses (pro-rata for part-time employees), this two-year agreement gives staff access to long service leave after five years while still working at the Wolper Hospital. Previously, employees could only take long service leave after being employed for 10 years. It also contains a workloads clause.

Lithgow Community Private Hospital

This two-year agreement brought the pay of nurses at Lithgow Community Private Hospital into line with their public sector colleagues. Initial wage increases were between 3.9% and 8%, with the majority of nurses receiving more than 7%. Employees will also receive a further 3.9% from the first pay period after 1 July 2010.

Mayo Private Hospital

A 3.8% pay increase to wages and allowances from the first pay period in December 2009 and two further 3.8% increases from the first pay periods commencing on or after July 2010 and July 2011 have been secured in this agreement. It also includes six weeks’ paid maternity leave and a close down clause that creates new protections for employees – for example, they cannot be required to store annual leave to use during a close down.

Alwyn Rehabilitation Hospital

Nurses employed at Alwyn Rehabilitation Hospital received a 4% pay increase from the first pay period commencing on or after 23 November 2009 and will receive another 4% increase from the first pay period commencing on or after 23 November 2010. A workloads clause and close down clause were other benefits of this two-year agreement.

Bargaining the key to better pay and conditions

All the above agreements would not have been made possible without the bargaining efforts of the NSWNA and its members. It is important that members working at facilities outside the public health sector push for an Enterprise Agreement. An Enterprise Agreement allows the Union to bargain on your behalf to secure improved pay and conditions.

‘We are much better off than if we were on the Nurses Award 2010,’ said Keith Dwyer, RN at Wolper Jewish Hospital.

It was Keith who asked the NSWNA to bargain on behalf of members at Wolper. ‘It’s very useful to have the Union involved because you had one person speaking on behalf of members,’ he said. ‘You need that expertise at the talking table. About a year or so ago the Union had a full-day workshop on going forward with new agreements and I found that quite eye opening because I’ve always worked in the public system and you take things for granted. The wage increase comes around and that’s fine, but you don’t realise what is involved in the private system because every hospital is different.’

How to get a good agreement

A strong Enterprise Agreement is your only guaranteed path to good pay rises and improvements in conditions. The best agreement outcomes come from workplaces with lots of interested, informed and involved members.

  • Talk to your workmates about the benefits of an Enterprise Agreement – ask them if they want to be covered by one.
  • Contact the Union office if you need material about bargaining or any other matter.
  • Work with your colleagues to make sure as many employees as possible are Union members.
  • Keep in touch with your Union representatives – including attending workplace meetings and Union phone conferences.
  • Make contact with nurses at the other facilities in your company.
  • Stay interested and informed during the bargaining process and discuss bargaining issues with your colleagues and your Union representatives.