Look who’s lagging in aged care

 

One third of aged care members are benefiting from Union Collective Agreements that boost pay and conditions but most in the sector have been left behind. It’s time to get lagging employers to the bargaining table.

A primary focus of the NSWNA in 2008 has been working with aged care members to bargain for new Union Collective Agreements with aged care employers.

Thirty two per cent of aged care nurses are now covered by new agreements that deliver improved pay and conditions to nurses.

Most Union Collective Agreements negotiated by members and the NSWNA offer guaranteed annual wage increases of at least 3.5% and improved conditions such as paid maternity leave of up to 12 weeks, a new classification of endorsed enrolled nurse with higher pay, a new classification of AiN team leader with higher pay, and extended long service leave which accrues faster.

Many agreements are based on a template agreement negotiated by the NSWNA with Aged and Community Services Association of NSW and ACT (ACS) – an employer organisation representing around 300 not-for-profit aged care employers.

The template agreement delivers minimum pay increases of 3.5% per year and significant improvements in conditions and sets a strong benchmark for pay and conditions across the aged care sector.

While the majority of aged care members working for not-for-profit employers are now covered by a Union Collective Agreement, many aged care nurses – including some working for large, for-profit employers (see table opposite) – do not have the protection of a new agreement.

‘This is why it’s extremely important nurses get involved in the process of negotiating their new agreement,’ said NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda.

‘If you work at an aged care facility and you do not have a new agreement, talk to the other nurses at your workplace about asking your employer to offer you a Union Collective Agreement,’ said Judith. ‘Then together approach your employer with your request.’

There are two types of agreements: Union Collective Agreements and employee collective agreements. A Union Collective Agreement means that employees – with the NSWNA – negotiate as a group with their employer.

An employee collective agreement excludes union involvement – employees negotiate with management on their own.

‘The highest paid aged care nurses in NSW are covered by Union Collective Agreements. They provide conditions that enable aged care nurses to better juggle work and family life,’ said Judith

‘By negotiating together, nurses have greater bargaining power, backed by expert advice and negotiation skills from NSWNA officials.’