Experienced nurses and midwives case adjourned

IR Commission temporarily sets aside part-heard case for pay increases.

Due to significant pressure from the NSW Industrial Relations Commission Full Bench, the part-heard case for 3.8% pay increases for experienced nurses and midwives has been adjourned to a later date.

However, this move will not affect the NSWNA’s 2010 pay campaign.

In October 2009 the Association filed the comprehensive evidence of 17 nurse and midwife witnesses in support of the claim in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission. NSW Health opposed the NSWNA’s application and the hearing was scheduled from 27 April to 13 May with further dates in June.

But the Full Bench took an unexpected and unprecedented approach to hearing the case. ‘Rather than hear from witnesses during the proceedings at the beginning of May the Commission directed conciliation between the parties,’ said NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes. ‘These attempts took several days that had been set aside for the hearing of witness evidence.’

On 3 May, the Commission issued a statement formalising its concerns about the prospect of an industrial campaign during the period of the hearing or while awaiting a decision.

‘It is not in the public interest for the Full Bench to be placed in a position of continuing to hear and determine a claim while a campaign is underway seeking further significant increases, potentially on the same or similar grounds, for the very classifications that are the subject of the present proceeding,’ the statement said.

On 4 May, the NSWNA Council held an extraordinary meeting to consider these developments in the case and decided to seek an adjournment to allow the NSWNA 2010 Campaign to run its course, at least to enable the parties to explore the possibility of settlement of matters both in the 2010 Campaign and in these proceedings.

While this position was opposed by NSW Health, the Commission accepted the Association’s application on the basis that it was ‘appropriate and responsible’.

The Association will consider the most appropriate time to re-list this case at a later date.

The adjournment will not affect the 2010 pay campaign. ‘The 2010 wages and conditions campaign claims that Branches overwhelmingly endorsed in April are still going ahead,’ said Brett Holmes. ‘In addition, those claims being arbitrated in the above case will be added to the negotiating agenda as was recommended by the Commission.’