Celebrations at Healthe, Healthscope

New agreements at Healthe and Healthscope deliver more pay, better conditions, and recognise additional tertiary qualifications.

Members at Healthe and Healthscope private hospitals have overwhelmingly voted to endorse new agreements with their employers that lock in significant payrises and improvements in conditions, closing the gap in parity in pay and conditions with public hospital nurses.

New agreements were won after determined campaigning by the NSWNA and members at Healthe and Healthscope private hospitals.

Healthe and Healthscope came to the bargaining table with the NSWNA and negotiated fair agreements that responded to nurses’ concerns, said NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda. ‘These agreements show that Healthe and Healthscope value and respect their nursing workforce.’

The new Healthe Agreement delivers a 12.5% payrise over three years – or 4.16% per annum, and the Healthscope agreement delivers 7.8% over two years – or 3.9% per annum.

Importantly, the new Healthscope agreement significantly closes the gap in pay parity with public health sector nurses. Private hospital nurse pay rate increases were generally one year behind increases in the public health sector. The Healthscope agreement halves the time lag in pay parity to six months. The Healthe agreement cuts the time lag in pay parity to nine months.

‘In preparing to bargain for new workplace agreements in private hospitals, the NSWNA conducted research to find out members’ priorities and concerns. Members reported that closing the gap in achieving parity in pay and conditions was a top concern. This has been the cornerstone of the NSWNA campaign,’ said Judith.

The new Healthe and Healthscope agreements also provide improved conditions such as a Continuing Education Allowance for additional relevant tertiary qualifications.

Judith said winning a Continuing Education Allowance is another important gain towards achieving parity with public health sector nurses. ‘Nurses who undertake additional qualifications deserve to be recognised for their skills and qualifications and the effort that goes into undertaking extra study.’

Nurses at Healthe won 10 weeks’ paid maternity leave and nurses at Healthscope won six weeks’ maternity leave paid upon birth and three weeks paid following the mother’s return to work.

Other improvements to conditions at Healthe include a stronger workloads clause, which means a more timely process for dealing with workloads problems; increased in-charge-of-shift payments; increased night duty penalty rates; on call rates of $2.12/hour (minimum 10-hour payment); increased EEN rates; and ENs who qualify as RNs will start at the RN Year 2 pay rate.

Healthscope has agreed to a review of the EN classifications by April 2009.

‘This positive reward for ENs is in marked contrast to the public health system’s refusal to agree to the majority of NSWNA’s claims to recognise ENs in the 2008 pay negotiations,’ said Judith.

What is your new pay?

The following table shows the new weekly pay rates for Healthe and Healthscope nurses, compared to public health system nurses.

From 1/1/09
Healthe Care
From 1/4/09
NSW Public Health System
From 1/7/08
EN Thereafter $875 $876 $875
EN medication endorsed Thereafter $893* $928 $893
RN/RM Yr 1 $912 $913 $912
RN/RM Yr 5  $1,117 $1,118  $1,117
RN/RM Yr 8  $1,281  $1,282  $1,281
CNE $1,333 $1,334 $1387 (Yr 1)
CNS Grade 1 $1,333 $1,334 $1,333
NUM Level 2 $1,683 $1,683 $1683

Rates are rounded to nearest dollar.

*Healthscope will begin a joint review with the NSWNA of EN pay rates in early 2009, as a result of the NSWNA’s claim. (Healthe Care has already agreed to some higher rates). To have your say in this review, call Alicia McCosker or James Figallo at the NSWNA office.

Closer to parity at Healthscope

‘The Healthscope agreement cuts back by six months the time lag in pay parity with the public health system. Pay parity with the public health system is a big issue for members,’ said Wendy Rice, Branch Secretary at Prince of Wales Private Hospital.

‘During negotiations for a new workplace agreement, Healthscope listened to members and responded to their concerns,’ said Wendy, who is a midwife and NUM of the Special Care Nursery.

Members at Prince of Wales Private Hospital got organised to campaign for a new agreement and set up a new NSWNA Branch. ‘We held branch meetings every two months and members were encouraged to get involved and have a say about what they wanted.’

Happy members at Healthe

Are members happy with their new agreement at Healthe’s North Gosford Hospital? ‘Absolutely,’ says Branch President and member of the NSWNA’s Private Hospital Log of Claims Committee, Deb Lang.

‘We’ve been offered a very fair agreement. After some negotiating, we got a 4.1% per annum pay rise, which is great. People are very pleased with the extra 3.8% pay for EENs and increased night duty penalty rates. The Continuing Education Allowance is also important. We are very pleased to have a workloads clause included in our EBA and look forward to being able to use it to improve patient care and nursing workload issues. We will value input from members of the NSWNA who have experienced workloads training in the public sector. The NSWNA has already approached us with assistance and education to get it implemented,’ said Deb, who is Discharge Planner and DVA Liaison at North Gosford Hospital.

‘Members are really pleased with the whole bargaining process with Healthe. Healthe has done the right thing by nurses. Although we might not always agree on everything, Healthe has endeavoured to show us they respect and value nurses.

‘Both Healthe and the NSWNA consulted with members and responded to our concerns. Nurses feel they were active participants in the whole process. The branch held monthly meetings where members got an update on negotiations, and then gave feedback to Healthe and the NSWNA on what they felt. Nurses were proactive in pushing for what they wanted.

‘Bargaining for a new agreement has really shown nurses the value of belonging to the Union, and the role of the NSWNA. The NSWNA bargaining team was fantastic,’ said Deb.

Healthe addressed our issues

Healthe listened to nurses and addressed our issues, said RN and Branch Secretary at Dubbo Private Hospital, Sheridan Lowe.

‘The bargaining process was quite a positive experience.

‘There was good communicationfrom the Union and Healthe, and nurses were invited to provide feedback and input.’

Sheridan was enjoying holidays when The Lamp caught up with her. ‘I feel like we’ve treated well so I’m happier going back to work after the holidays. Usually you dread it. And the extra pay is really welcome.’