First a branch, then a pay increase at Sydney Private

Nurses at Sydney Private Hospital have found that organising a union branch can lead to pay benefits for all.

Early this year management at Sydney Private Hospital offered some of its nurses a 5% pay increase, and for those who were prepared to sacrifice their penalty rates, a 10% increase.

Jane Howard says for many nurses at the hospital there was an important catch.

‘Some of us stood back because it meant signing an individual agreement and we wanted a collective agreement. We wanted a pay increase but we wanted it across the board,’ she said.

Jane and other union members in the hospital decided to form a branch of the NSWNA.

‘A group of us asked for the pay increase at the same time and we all got it. Then we asked for a collective agreement. At that point the owner, Dr Katz, stepped in and gave us a 4% pay increase on top of the 5%,’ she said.

For those nurses who had not received a 5% increase earlier in the year there was to be a 9% increase. Management also did an about face and offered to return penalty rates to those who had earlier sacrificed them.

The offer brings Sydney Private Hospital nurses in line with each other, and 1% behind the Public Hospital rates of pay.

‘I’m sure that the branch played a role in getting the pay increase,’ Jane said.

Jane says this win has created a lot more interest in the union.

‘A lot of young people are beginning to show interest – not just in the union but in the whole IR situation. There is a lot more talk in the tea room about this sort of stuff.’

Holroyd and Longueville deserve a pay rise, too

NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda said the pay increase at Sydney Private is great but she believes it should also be extended to Holroyd and Longueville Hospitals which are in the same ownership.

‘They deserve this pay increase, too, as they do the same work,’ she said.