Thursday 23rd October 2008
Talks between the NSWNA and the largest private hospital employers Ramsay and Healthscope have kicked off.
Ramsay and Healthscope indicated at the beginning of negotiations they are committed to Union Collective Agreements.
‘This is a constructive and healthy place to begin our talks,’ said NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes.
Widespread consultation with NSWNA members revealed parity for private hospital nurses with their colleagues in the public sector as their highest priority and that is at the top of the agenda for the NSWNA negotiating team.
Both companies have said they will be ‘pragmatic’.
‘Only the employers benefit by a delay. Each day they stall giving a pay increase means more profits for them and less pay in the pockets of private hospital nurses,’ said Brett Holmes.
‘Our aim is for an agreement in November. We will look for back pay if the employers drag the chain.’
Healthscope have agreed to a timetable to offer a new agreement for nurses to vote on in November.
Brett says a point of distinction in the talks is what is meant by ‘parity’.
‘We are saying parity means more than the hourly rate. It also means significant conditions that public hospital nurses have that private nurses do not, such as Continuing Education Allowance and better Paid Maternity Leave,’ he said.
Public hospital nurses won a groundbreaking 14 weeks maternity leave in their agreement signed in 2005. The current agreements with both Ramsay and Healthscope are now silent about paid maternity leave, although in practice these companies pay some maternity leave.
‘We want an appropriate paid maternity leave entitlement built into the award,’ Brett said.
An increase in the night penalty rate has also been claimed by the NSWNA negotiating team.
Members endorse Healthe claim
The draft claim has been endorsed by Healthe Care branches. A formal claim has been submitted to Healthe Care. Preliminary discussions have taken place between the Association and the employer, with formal negotiations to commence in October.
Links grow between our private hospitals
In any pay campaign good workplace organisation and effective communication networks are vital to a good outcome and both continue to build in NSW private hospitals.
NSWNA members in different private hospitals throughout the state have been networking by teleconference on a regular basis.
‘This has allowed our members to share information and experiences as we advance our pay claims,’ said NSWNA Assistant Secretary Judith Kiejda.
Judith says the more members that get involved, the greater leverage we will have on employers in negotiations.
‘Even doing small things like passing on information, talking to your workmates about our claim and, of course, getting people to join the union can make a big difference to getting a decent pay rise,’ she said. ‘We also want to share the load around and not rely on the same people to do all the work.’
Any private hospital nurse who would like to get involved can fill out a Bargaining Organising Committee form available on the NSWNA website or you can get one from your branch or from the NSWNA office.