A number of Enterprise Agreements in the private sector are due to expire in 2011, including Ramsay, which has 26 facilities in NSW. A Log of Claims Committee has been elected to identify terms for new agreements.During April and May, NSWNA officials will visit hospitals where agreements are expiring to discuss what members would like to be included in the new agreements.
Jane Cooper, RN, at Figtree Private Hospital in Illawarra, was recently elected to the Log of Claims Committee.
‘Being employed in a private hospital I think it’s important we keep in the ballpark with the public system in terms of wages and conditions,’ she told The Lamp. ‘When you consider that our education is the same, our responsibilities are very similar and our skills are the same, it’s important we are properly remunerated and have conditions that ensure not only patient safety but also the health and wellbeing of our staff members. It’s easy for the private system to lag behind the public system unless we are proactive in securing good terms and conditions.’
In addition to pay rises, other peripheral issues are also important to secure in a new agreement, even though they may not affect all staff at the same time, according to Jane.
‘Take long service leave, for example. I work for Ramsay and we get the same long service leave benefits up to 10 years as the public system, but from 10 to 20 years working for Ramsay I’ll get two and a half months of long service leave, whereas if I worked in the public system, I’d get five additional months – and Ramsay is one of the better agreements.
‘This comes about from ignorance by members of their own agreement and that’s why it’s important that Association Delegates make their colleagues aware of where we stand, because not all issues come up for everyone all the time. Pay and overtime do, so people are aware of those, but they’re not aware of the less used terms of our conditions and how they compare with the public sector,’ said Jane.
‘In the private sector employees often fear that if they make too many demands of their employer their jobs will be threatened. It’s a fear members have and it’s important they understand that if they are able to form a Branch, the Branch works on their behalf, so if there’s an issue that is widespread throughout the hospital or organisation, the Branch is able to take it on board and have anonymity in terms of making some noise about it.
‘I’m one of the Officials in our Branch and I’m often asked by my colleagues about things they are unsure of. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a Branch at your facility,’ said Jane.
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