First National Agreement for Family Planning

Lorraine Edney, CNS at Ashfield Family Planning
Lorraine Edney, CNS at Ashfield Family Planning

Nurses at Family Planning NSW are set to vote on a new agreement with significant improvements to pay and conditions.After several months of negotiations, nurses at Family Planning NSW are set to vote on a new, national agreement that will go towards reducing the gap with public-sector wages base rates of pay, as well as delivering a number of additional benefits.

The Agreement – which is the fourth for the organisation but the first national agreement – provides wage increases of 4% to all classifications in July 2011 and 2012, plus back pay of 4% (4.6% for CNSs and 4.3% for RNs 8th year thereafter).

The back pay will be made within two pays of a ‘yes’ vote, rather than waiting for Fair Work Australia approval, which may take some time.

The Agreement also includes new nursing classifications of CNS 2 and AiN, the retention of 14 weeks’ paid parental leave, paid trade union leave, and the option to cash out some annual leave.

The two-year agreement covers around 30 nurses working in the Ashfield, Newcastle, Penrith, Fairfield and Dubbo clinics of Family Planning NSW, which is a not-for-profit organisation providing reproductive and sexual health services across NSW. The Agreement expires on 30 June 2013.

‘The Association understands that members desire parity with the Public Health System. The wage increases in the proposed Agreement will reduce the gap with public-sector wages base rates of pay,’ said NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda.

Lorraine Edney, CNS at Family Planning NSW’s Ashfield clinic, said nurses were happy the negotiations have been finalised.

‘The new Agreement is a positive outcome for our nursing workforce,’ she told The Lamp. ‘Nurses at Family Planning NSW feel strongly that our remuneration should be closer to the pay of nurses working in public hospitals and this agreement inches us closer to this. We’ve been looking for a CNC at Family Planning NSW for some time now, and while we haven’t achieved that directly this time, the CNS 2 classification will give us more of a career pathway and something to work towards. It acknowledges our advanced practice skills.

‘The other thing we are very conscious of is the ageing of our workforce, so anything that attracts young nurses to our speciality is a good thing, and paid parental leave will hopefully be an inducement for young nurses,’ said Lorraine, who also praised the employer for looking after its nursing workforce.

‘We’ve always had a very good relationship with management at Family Planning. This negotiation has been mutually respectful. Management has been very supportive in making sure nurses got access to them in order to put forward our claims. For nurses working in a speciality we enjoy an interesting working environment and job satisfaction that keeps us here for a long time,’ said Lorraine.

Lorraine also acknowledged the invaluable assistance provided by the Association in securing a good set of workplace conditions.

‘We wouldn’t have got the outcomes we did without the input and help of our Industrial Officer. She is informed, industrially aware, and so patient with us. All the nurses here really appreciate the skills she brought to the negotiating table,’ said Lorraine.

KEY BENEFITS OF THE NEW AGREEMENT

  • 4.6% wage increase for CNSs, 4.3% for RN 8th year thereafter, and 4% for all other nurses – backdated to 1 July 2010.
  • 4% increase for all classifications from 1 July 2011.
  • 4% increase for all classifications from 1 July 2012.
  • New nursing classifications of CNS 2 and an AiN.
  • Improved tea break provisions – increases from 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Annual review of part-time hours to properly reflect the hours worked.
  • Four-hour minimum engagement for part-timers.
  • Improved Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) provisions. If it cannot be rostered within six pay periods, TOIL will be paid out at overtime rates.
  • Paid trade union leave.
  • Increased casual loading and conversion option remains after four weeks.
  • Lactation breaks.
  • Expansion of salary packaging for entertainment.
  • Continuation of the Working Party on nursing classifications.
  • Option to cash out some annual leave.
  • Continuing professional development requirements to be considered in learning development leave applications.
  • The inclusion of ‘midwives’ in terminology.