Sonya says, make the switch!

From left: Sally Woodburne, RN; Mary Palme, RN and Peta MacFarlane, Public Relations/Marketing at Concord Hospital
From left: Sally Woodburne, RN; Mary Palme, RN and Peta MacFarlane, Public Relations/Marketing at Concord Hospital

Concord Hospital’s NSWNA branch is encouraging members to make the switch from paying their union fees by payroll deduction to direct debit.

Noticing that there were 228 members at Concord Hospital still paying their union fees through payroll deduction, NSWNA Concord Branch Secretary Sonya Jones began a campaign to get them to make the switch.

As a Nursing Manager and RN at Concord Hospital for more than 35 years, Sonya understands the need for nurses to convert to paying their union fees by direct debit.

In Victoria, automatic payroll deductions were banned, practically overnight, when the Kennett Government prohibited public service departments from making automatic payments of union dues. This left thousands of union members vulnerable to becoming non-financial members, in the process losing the protection of their membership.

To ensure NSWNA members at Concord Hospital stay protected, Sonya and other branch officials decided to directly approach each nurse that was still paying their fees by payroll deduction.

The team distributed information packs explaining the need for NSWNA members to change to direct debit or cash payment options, and highlighting the difference between payroll deductions and direct debit.

CNC and RN Anne McDade, who also took part in the campaign, said she found that there was confusion among some nurses, who thought they already were having their union fees collected through direct debit.

“A lot of nurses think they’re already doing it because it’s coming out of a payroll deduction,” Anne said. “They also thought that it would be difficult to switch.

“That’s why in our campaign the forms were all laid out and an individual letter went out, addressed to the member by name, complete with return envelopes.

A direct debit form and a letter with instructions for the HR department were also provided.

“We put everything in the package and all they had to do was put in their bank details and fill everything out, then put it in the envelopes and send it off,” Sonya told The Lamp.

“We put a box in the staffing office, which most people pass in and out of going to work, so they just had to drop it in there. Basically it was all about bringing it to their attention individually and making it as easy as possible,” Sonya said.

Through her campaign experience at Concord Hospital, Sonya learnt that having a contact person in each ward was the best way to approach nurses to help them to make the change to direct debit.

“All you have to do is stop a nurse for five minutes and say, ‘fill this out and we’ll do the rest’. All they have to do is supply their bank details and the rest is so simple,” Sonya said.

“It’s not that nurses don’t want to do this. They just need to have the paperwork right there in front of them.”

Although Sonya and Anne know how hard it is for nurses to find the time to change their NSWNA payment options – between work and family nurses don’t have a lot of spare time – they urge all nurses to consider switching from the old payroll deduction system to direct debit payments.

“The union is only as strong as its collective membership,” Anne says. “We can’t have a strong Association if you don’t have the numbers. That’s the only way our

Association stays strong and through that, the membership is protected.

“Payroll deductions could be taken away without warning, as happened in Victoria which was absolutely disastrous. We can’t think that it won’t happen here in NSW, so I really do think it’s a campaign that we should continue.”