Nurses tell Allity ‘NO’ once again

Aged care business Allity has failed in a second attempt to push staff into a substandard agreement.

For the second time in eight months, Allity nurses have voted against a company attempt to lock them into four more years of low pay and unsafe workloads.

Despite company pressure, 59.6 per cent of nursing staff voted ‘No’ to Allity’s offer of a small pay increase, no back pay and no staffing improvements in May.

Nurses said Allity management pulled out all stops to sway the vote.

Staff were told that nursing homes would close and they would lose their jobs if they voted no.

Nurses were called in at the start of their shifts and taken into voting booths where a manager stood and watched them vote via computer.

Company executives turned up at work-places when NSWNMA officials visited to speak to members.

Executives routinely sat down in lunch rooms within earshot of discussions between staff and union representatives.

They even arranged free pizza for staff while trying to drum up support for a ‘Yes’ vote.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said a near-60 per cent ‘No’ vote was extraordinary under these circumstances.

“The employer had a big advantage, but a very active and courageous group of union members did a lot of work to counter their tactics,” he said.

“They talked to their workmates, explained the issues and kept them up to date with campaign developments.

“Despite all the pressure, they attended union meetings, put up posters and handed out flyers.” 

Allity refused to negotiate

The Allity enterprise agreement expired in June 2017 and the NSWNMA has tried to negotiate with Allity since February 2017.

Nurses at all 15 Allity facilities in NSW signed a petition calling on the company to enter talks.

Allity refused to negotiate and decided instead to extend the existing agreement with wage increases of 1.8 per cent in 2017 and 2018.

 It put the offer to a staff vote – as required by law – but nurses voted to reject it in October.

The company then agreed to negotiations, offering a two per cent increase and later, a 2.2 per cent increase.

Allity refused to backpay the increase to the date an increase was due of the old agreement, (as is usual practice), and rejected meaningful changes to the workloads clause to ease the burden of understaffing.

Throughout February and early March, 10 of the company’s NSW nursing homes passed resolutions calling on Allity to make an improved pay offer and address other union claims.

However, Allity took a 2.35 per cent pay offer to a second ballot, which staff also rejected.

Despite this, Allity has been forced by the fair work commission to increase many of their rates from 1 July to stay above the legal minimum pay.

Brett says many nurses have joined the NSWNMA during the campaign and three new union branches have been formed. 

“It is outrageous that a highly profitable company like Allity is making nurses fight so hard for a decent pay increase,” he said.