Private hospital nurses’ campaign heats up

Negotiations need to intensify to win pay parity and protection of existing rights

NSWNA negotiations with private hospital em-ployers are moving into top gear in February, reflecting the determination of the Association and members to achieve agreement of members’ claims in the Private Hospital Nurses’ Equal Rights Campaign.

Private hospital members are seeking the same rates of pay and other conditions as public hospital nurses.

The NSWNA has had nine meetings with representatives of private hospital employers since negotiations commenced in November 2005.

Agreement needed before WorkChoices kicks in
In the face of an uncertain and hostile clim-ate created by the Federal Government’s new IR laws, the NSWNA aims to achieve agreement with private hospital employers before the legislation comes into affect, which may be as soon as March 2006.

According to NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda, there is uncertainty about when WorkChoices will come into affect and its implications for nurses.

‘It’s no wonder there is uncertainty when Howard’s own ministers are unable to explain the implications of the laws for nurses. What is certain is that some conditions that private hospital nurses have already won are now under threat by the WorkChoices legislation.

They will not be allowed to be included in future enterprise agreements.

‘Therefore, it is paramount that we achieve an enterprise agreement with private hospital employers before the laws come into effect.
What private hospital nurses are seeking

‘What we’re asking for is very basic and fair – private hospital nurses want equal pay and conditions for the hard work they do,’ said Judith.

The NSWNA recently conducted phone interviews with 200 members to confirm the campaign claims (see box out). Private hospital nurses indicated that the same pay and conditions as public hospital nurses is a top priority. Private hospital nurses are seeking a 14.7% pay rise over two years and eight months to bring them in line with public hospital nurses.

The NSWNA is expecting a further response from private hospital employers to members’ claims in early February 2006.

‘Private hospital employers Ramsay and Healthscope have pledged to maintain existing conditions, but they still need to pay the full public sector increases and meet members’ claims for improved conditions.

For more information on the Private Hospital Nurses’ Equal Rights Campaign visit the NSWNA website: www.nswnurses.asn.au

Claims in the Private Hospital Nurses’ Equal Rights Campaign

  • Pay parity with public hospital nurses
  • Introduction of the EN-medication classification and wage rate
  • No AWAs
  • Right of entry for NSWNA officers
  • Rights for NSWNA delegates
  • Protection of existing conditions in legally enforceable documents
  • Legally enforceable right to a reasonable workload
  • Continuing education allowance and study leave
  • Paid parental leave
  • Increased in-charge and on-call allowance rates
  • 10-hour breaks between shifts.