New agreement at Family Planning NSW

Nurses at Family Planning NSW (FPA) have won a new enterprise agreement that secures pay and conditions until 24 November 2009.

The new agreement covering nurses at FPA sites across NSW was approved by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission on 19 April 2007.

Family Planning NSW is an organisation providing a diverse range of services including clinical, research, telephone advisory, health promotion and training in the field of sexual and reproductive health.

Despite a relatively small nursing work-force of 28 RNs, members at FPA achieved a 9% payrise over the three years of the agreement and improved conditions such as increased paid maternity leave and access to voluntary salary sacrificing.

‘These improvements were achieved because throughout the negotiating process nurses were actively involved and attended regular meetings,’ said NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda.

RNs Lorraine Edney and Miranda Wheeler told The Lamp they were relieved to have this new agreement signed and sealed.

‘It’s been a tough fight but we’re hap-py with what we’ve achieved. We did it by sticking together and being clear about what we wanted,’ said Miranda.

‘It was hard to have meetings because we are at sites dispersed across NSW. But we kept up communication via email and through teleconferencing.’

Lorraine said members are happy to have retrieved conditions that had been previously lost. ‘We also have access to voluntary salary packaging, which was important to members,’ she said

‘We appreciated the union being behind us throughout the negotiating process,’ said Lorraine.

Miranda said, ‘Our organisers were superb and we can’t speak highly enough of the work they did with us.

‘We are extremely fortunate to work in this sector and to be in this union in these very difficult industrial times. The woman who served me in the local hardware store on Easter Sunday just laughed at me when I asked her if she was getting penalty rates over the break. Nor does she get them on her regular Sundays. We need to realise what workers around us are losing every day under Howard.’

The key features of the agreement are:

  • An immediate pay increase of 3% backdated to the first pay period on or after 1 September 2006; followed by a further increase of 3% on the first  pay period on or after 24 November 2007; and 3% on the first  pay period on or after 24 November 2008;
  • Paid Maternity Leave increased from 9 to 14 weeks and paid either fortnightly or at half pay;
  • Lecturing fees – an allowance of $20 per hr in addition to ordinary rates;
  • Family Planning Certificate allowance reintroduced – $9.52 per week to be indexed with wage increases;
  • Voluntary salary packaging and salary sacrifice to superannuation and laptops.

During the bargaining process, FPA sought legal advice that confirmed FPA nurses should remain in the NSW IR system, as their trading activities were not substantial enough for them to fall into the federal IR system.