Tuesday 24th March 2009
Petition by nurses helps win a new Union Collective Agreement at Fairview Retirement Village.
Nurses at Fairview Retirement Village in Moree voted unanimously to endorse a new Union Collective Agreement with their employer, locking in pay and conditions for the next three years.
Moree Care for the Aged Association offered nurses a new agreement that delivered 3.5% per annum for three years, and improvements to conditions such as nine weeks’ paid maternity leave.
The new agreement is based on the template agreement developed by the not-for-profit employer group Aged and Community Services Assoc (ACS), the NSWNA and HSU. Many hundreds of nurses are now covered by ACS template agreements negotiated by the NSWNA.
Like many other aged care nurses, nurses at Fairview were under a Notional Agreement Preserving a State Award (NAPSA) prior to the Agreement, and had had no proper pay increase other than minimum wage increases since 2005.
NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda said the process of achieving a new agreement at Fairview shows that if members are united and approach their employer as a group, they can achieve what they want.
‘Even nurses working for smaller, stand-alone facilities in regional areas can still get organised and work together to get a good agreement that protects pay and conditions,’ she said.
EEN at Fairview, Caroline Moore, said, ‘The NSWNA Organiser visited members at work and suggested nurses get together to ask our employer for an agreement. We held a meeting where we agreed to present a petition to management.
‘Thirty people signed the petition and management came back quickly indicating they wanted to negotiate a new agreement. Our CEO Brett Arthur was keen to show that he appreciated staff.
‘Everyone is very happy with the agreement. It provides better recognition for EENs. I’ve been an EEN for three years. Previously, I was only getting medications allowance if I was doing a medications round. Otherwise, I was just paid at EN rates, even though I had the extra qualifications,’ said Caroline.
Fairview CEO Brett Arthur told The Lamp negotiating the agreement with nurses and the NSWNA was an easy, smooth process, with assistance from ACS.
‘We’d been planning to negotiate a contract with nurses for a while. The petition by nurses confirmed that management and nurses wanted the same thing.
‘The Organiser from the NSWNA was available to support nurses and give any information and assistance they required. I also kept my door open for discussion,’ he said.
‘We had a 100% “yes” vote for the agreement. I see this as a sign that people are very happy,’ said Mr Arthur.
Caroline Moore has a message for other aged care nurses: ‘It’s worth getting together and asking your employer for a new agreement. Our agreement at Fairview just shows that if you get together and ask for something, you can get it. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it.’
How you can get an agreement like Fairview’s
Aged care nurses
NSWNA members can call the Association for free, confidential advice on 8595 1234. Start talking to your colleagues about all signing a request for a Union Collective Agreement. You can use the Association’s petition form or make your own.
Come to the Association’s free, one-day workshop about collective agreements and pay rises. Call Tim Shaw on 8595 1234 to register for the next workshops: Sydney, 27 March and 15 June; Newcastle, 1 April; and Parramatta, 15 May.
If your organisation is an ACS member, the work has been done for you. You qualify for free, hands-on support to offer your staff the recommended model Union Collective Agreement. You can get a ‘how to’ guide for implementation and personalised advice by phoning Aged Care Services NSW on 8754 0400.