O’Farrell takes aim at disability nurses

Ageing, Disability and Home Care nurses face loss of award conditions – who will be next?

More than 1000 New South Wales nurses, who care for people with the greatest physical and intellectual disabilities, stand to lose some annual leave, some shift penalty rates, all annual leave loading and other award conditions.

Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) nurses working under the Department of Family and Community Services, are the first nurses to face sweeping cuts to their awards by the state Liberal/ National government.

The O’Farrell Government says it will ask the NSW Industrial Commission to change 98 awards for about 80,000 public sector workers, including ADHC nurses, clerical staff, librarians, parks and gardens staff, school administration assistants, regulatory inspectors and legal officers.

A spokeswoman for the Finance and Services Minister, Greg Pearce, told the Sydney Morning Herald that most nurses employed under the Public Health System Nurses and Midwives’ State Award would be exempt from the cuts. But she confirmed that nurses employed by the Department of Family and Community Services would be targeted.

“To have these cuts imposed on staff on top of the government wages policy [which caps salary rises to 2.5%] is outrageous,” Judith Kiejda, Assistant General Secretary of the NSWNMA said. “The meanness of this government beggars belief.”

Judith said a meeting of NSWNMA delegates from across the state had voted unanimously to support ADHC nurses in a campaign against the cuts and for a decent pay rise.

“If this government can get away with doing this to ADHC nurses, it will use the precedent to attack the pay packets of all nurses.”

What’s at risk?

The O’Farrell Government’s proposed cuts to awards covering public sector workers such as ADHC nurses includes:

•Abolishing the 17.5% annual leave loading.

•Cutting penalty rates by restricting the definition of a shift worker to someone who works outside 7.30am to 6pm.

•Cutting shift workers’ annual leave from six and seven weeks for some, to a maximum of five weeks for all.

•Abolishing Family and Community Service (FACS) leave.

•Stopping injured workers from using sick leave to make up the difference between the amount of workers’ compensation payable and their ordinary rate of pay.

•Cutting travel allowances.

•Cutting benefits for remote workers, including remote allowance, additional leave and travel assistance.