Expert debunks employers’ poor plea

Professor Bob Walker, engaged by the NSWNA to analyse the industry’s capacity to pay the pay rise, said the Commission’s decision is ‘a devastating rebuff to employers’.

Professor of Accounting at the University of Sydney, Professor Bob Walker, said the NSWNA should be very happy with the outcome of the aged care pay case.

‘The Association was quite innovative in arranging independent academic research to analyse the employer’s financial arguments,’ he said.

The Association engaged Professor Walker to analyse the employers’ case that the industry did not have the capacity to pay the increases we sought.

Professor Walker examined financial documents from 18 aged care facilities and gave evidence to the full bench of the Commission.

In their judgement the commissioners noted that Professor Walker found that the industry was in a healthy financial position overall.
‘Professor Walker considered the 18 individual capacity to pay affidavits (tendered by the employers) and concluded that they were unrepresentative of the industry as a whole,’ the commissioners commented.

Following the Commission’s decision, Professor Walker told The Lamp that most evidence presented by employers dealt with nursing homes in isolation, rather than as integrated businesses combined with retirement villages.

Employers’ evidence also failed to take into account sources of income such as revenue from retention of accommodation bonds, he said.

‘As a result the Commission concluded that the employers’ evidence did not reflect an objective analysis of the industry’s real financial situation,’ he said.

Professor Walker said the job of analysing some of the financial statements presented in evidence by the employers was very demanding because the accounts were so poorly presented.

He said organisations receiving government subsidies, such as aged care facilities, ought to be required to make public the minimum financial information required of public companies, to an acceptable accounting standard.

‘At the moment this is just not happening,’ he said.

Don’t cop cuts to hours

The NSWNA case to the Commission proved there was no validity in the claims by employer representatives that aged care facilities cannot afford to pay nurses the pay rise.

It’s very disappointing that some employers are continuing to claim they cannot afford to pay the nurses who are the backbone of their business a fair wage,’ said Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda.

‘The far-sighted decision of Anglican Retirement Villages to pay their nurses an additional 7% on top of this rise just reiterates the capacity of the industry to pay. Aged care providers all receive the same funding from the government. If one can afford to do the right thing, they all can,’ she said.

What to do if your hours are cut

If your employer cuts nurse hours in the roster, you should contact the Association on 1300 367 962.

’It’s only going to be harder next time’

NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda says the 25% pay rise is a great win for aged care nurses – thanks to the one third who are NSWNA members.

‘These members and the Association campaigned solidly for 18 months to achieve a significant win that closes the gap between aged care and public hospital wages, despite the fact we had only one third of aged care nurses on board as members of the Association,’ she said.

‘It was a hard fight to achieve the 25% pay rise and it’s only going to be harder next time. We will be limited in what we can achieve for aged care nurses by the density of members in that sector. We are only as strong as our membership. We need more aged care nurses to join the NSWNA so we can build on the gains we have already achieved.

‘Members need to explain the benefits of the union to non members and ask them to join the NSWNA,’ said Judith.