Sunday 23rd March 2008
Nurses in the public health system achieve pay increases by campaigning every few years for a new agreement that is then made into a legally enforceable collective contract, called an ‘award’.
The first step is research done by the Association to develop a ‘claim’ or set of proposed improvements to pay and conditions. Our democratic process means that members vote on the proposed claim through our branches to decide whether to endorse it or not.
Across the public sector, each union negotiates and campaigns together with its members – with the relevant department employer and the state government to get an eventual outcome. The NSW Government decides the amount of wage increases that the Health
Department is allowed to offer the Association for nurses and midwives.
This time round, the government has said anything above a 2.5% pay increase per year must be paid for with ‘employee-related cost savings’ – an approach NSWNA rejects.
Proposed outcomes or ‘settlements’ are voted on by union members in order to decide whether to accept or reject them.
The difference between a good agreement and one that is not so good is pressure.
An acceptable ‘settlement’ never comes without nurses and midwives being prepared to take action to support and achieve their claim.
In May 2005 NSWNA members resolved to strike to get a better offer and the Industrial Relations Commission intervened – a higher outcome of 14.75% pay increases for 31/2 years was achieved.
In 2001 there was statewide strike action that led to 9.5% additional pay increases eventually awarded after a massive amount of evidence was brought by the Association in a legal case to prove the increasing work value of NSW nurses.
What you can do to help build the pressure