How do we win the new Award?

The NSWNA is gearing up for a campaign to improve pay and conditions for nurses working in the public health system.

The NSW Public Health System Nurses’ and Midwives’ (State) Award expires on 30 June this year.

The NSWNA and members now have the opportunity to campaign for a new agreement with their employer (NSW Government and NSW Health), which will include pay increases and improvements in conditions. It is a legally enforceable contract.

This is how the process works:

  • The first step is research to find out members’ concerns and their priorities for the new Award. Annual Conference resolutions provide a base from which further research is undertaken. The NSWNA has already commissioned independent focus groups, a comprehensive online survey of all members, NUM and Nurse Manager forums and Branch meetings to listen to your opinions on a range of relevant issues. You’ve told us pay is important but members are also concerned about workloads and staffing.
  • Committee of Delegates have elected a ‘Log of Claims’ Committee who refine possible claims into a draft for Branches to note on. This is happening now.
  • Recommended draft claim goes to Branch meetings and members to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • Once the claims have been served on the Department of Health, we then enter a period of negotiating and bargaining. The Association will enter these negotiations armed with the knowledge of what’s important to you and why improvements need to be made.
  • The NSW Government makes an offer.
  • Members consider the offer and undertake campaign activities.
  • The agreement is either rejected or endorsed.
  • The agreement is eventually ratified.

The difference between a good agreement and a weak one is pressure. An acceptable agreement never comes without nurses and midwives being prepared to take action to support and fight for their claim.

For example, in May 2005 NSWNA Branches resolved to strike to get a better offer. The Industrial Relations Commission intervened and the outcome was a higher pay increase of 14.75% for three and a half years.

What you can do

If we want a good agreement, members need to get involved:

  • Make sure your contact details are up to date. The NSWNA needs your email address, award classification and mobile number so we can get campaign information out to you fast. We may also need to be able to contact you quickly.
  • Encourage all your friends and workmates to join the Union. Remember, there is strength in numbers. They can join online or by phone today.
  • Attend ‘Safe Patient Care and Your Workload’, Branch Official and Activist Training (BOAT) workshops (see page 25).
  • Make contact with your NSWNA Branch officials and offer to help them organise campaign activities.