Friday 16th June 2006
Moran Health Care claims the dubious honour of being the first health employer to take advantage of the new federal IR laws, with an attack on the working conditions of nurses at its Dubbo facility.
Nurses at Moran’s Dubbo Nursing Home have been asked to sign contracts that allow their hours to be set at the employer’s whim.
NSWNA Assistant Secretary Judith Kiejda says Moran is aggressively using the federal government’s new laws to unilaterally strip back nurses’ conditions.
‘Full-time nurses were told they were to lose their RDOs and nurses who had worked permanent shifts for up to 15 years, were suddenly told they were working other shifts without any reasonable explanation. Full-time staff were made part-time, with a loss of hours and conditions,’ she said.
Judith Kiejda says the way nurses were ‘asked’ to sign was heavy handed.
‘Even the draconian federal IR laws prohibit coercion in agreement-making and we object to these tactics by the Dubbo management,’ she said.
Employer blocks union access
Moran has also taken advantage of a loophole in the new laws, which enables them to restrict access by union officers to the workplace.
Union officers were prevented from visiting concerned members at the Dubbo facility when management brought in the changes – without consultation with staff.
‘We wanted to go to the nursing home to conduct standard union business: hold discussions with our members about the issues they felt strongly about and then hold discussions with the employer to try and resolve these issues and find a way forward for everybody,’ said Judith.
Instead, NSWNA officers were denied access to the nursing home – as the federal government had not yet issued the Association with right of entry cards that are a requirement under the new laws. Nurses were forced to meet with their union representatives down the road from the facility.
‘Moran doesn’t have to deny us access under the law but they can choose to do just that,’ said Judith.
At the meeting, 15 nurses passed a resolution calling on their employer to enter into a meaningful dialogue with their NSWNA representatives to resolve their concerns.
Judith says the unnecessary confrontation at Dubbo is the latest in a pattern of behaviour by Moran Health Care towards its employees and their union representatives.
‘Moran are responsible for the worst excesses in aged care and what is happening in Dubbo fits in with other incidents across the state,’
‘We’ve had the downgrading of ENs to AINs, reduced hours and reducing the number of people on penalty shifts – all things that are about saving money on labour costs.
‘Despite this poor behaviour, we are still looking for a constructive relationship. All that will take is a change of attitude from Moran and appropriate consultation.’