Shellharbour Private Pay Rise Win

Nurses from Shellharbour Private
Nurses from Shellharbour Private

Threatened industrial action delivers the first pay rise in three years for Shellharbour Private Hospital members.Shellharbour Private Hospital members are celebrating a 13.5% pay rise over three years. This is the first pay rise in three years for Shellharbour nurses.

Shellharbour Private Hospital Branch was forced to threaten industrial action through the NSWNA when management refused to negotiate a reasonable pay agreement, even though the previous agreement expired in 2008. Nurses at Shellharbour Private Hospital had received no pay increases since 2008.

After 16 months of arduous negotiations, frustrated members asked the NSWNA to lodge an application for Protected Industrial Action, which was granted by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission in early May. The NSWNA was insisting on the need to make up for lost time in the pay settlement.

By May 2011, pay rates at Shellharbour Private Hospital had fallen up to 12% behind the rates being received by other nurses in the private hospital sector. Negotiations for new Agreements currently underway between the NSWNA and major private hospital employers, including the Ramsay Group, would have widened this wage gap even further.

‘With the threat of impending industrial action, a favourable Enterprise Agreement was offered by Hospital management and agreed to by Branch members unanimously. Shellharbour Private Hospital branch members hope this will encourage nursing staff to stay at Shellharbour Private Hospital and attract new staff in the future,’ said Branch Secretary and EN Linda Knox.

The new Agreement delivers an immediate 5% pay rise, plus 4%from May 2012 and another 4% from May 2013.

A ballot on the improved Agreement offer was underway at press time.

‘The Agreement also increased Annual Leave from four weeks to five weeks per year, and one week can be cashed out. Nurses are happy about this improvement,’ said Linda.

In February 2011, Shellharbour Private Hospital management had tabled an earlier draft agreement with a 3% pay increase, which did not make up for the wage gap that had grown over 33 months. When put out for nurses to vote on it, the NSWNA Branch strongly recommended a ‘no’ vote and the draft agreement was soundly rejected.

NSWNA Secretary Brett Holmes commended the members at Shellharbour Private Hospital for sticking together during such a slow and frustrating negotiation process to achieve a decent Agreement. ‘Shellharbour Private Hospital employs around 45 nurses and almost all are NSWNA members. Having a strong membership with a local Branch of the Association, as well as well-organised, active delegates, helped achieved this good result,’ said Brett.

‘Nurses are relieved to have an acceptable pay offer at last. It was long a fight. We wouldn’t have achieved it without the commitment and perseverance of branch members and the NSWNA,’ said Linda.