Sunday 16th April 2006
No thanks to cuts
6% pay rise but beware of employers who try to cut hours
As aged care nurses celebrate the payment of a 6% pay rise, the NSWNA warns against employers who try to cut nurses’ hours to offset the increase.
NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes said, ‘I encourage aged care nurses to say “No Thanks!” to employers who attempt to cut their hours in order to offset the 6% pay rise.’
The pay rise, due to be paid from 30 March 2006, is the final instalment in the 25% pay rise won by the NSWNA and aged care nurses in the Industrial Relations Commission last year.
The pay rise was achieved following the Fair Share for Aged Care campaign, waged by the NSWNA and aged care nurses to win a fair pay rise for aged care nurses. The hard-fought campaign won a 25% pay rise over three years – reducing the pay gap between aged care and public hospital nurses.
Aged care employers had argued in Commission that they could not afford to pay a decent pay rise. The NSWNA case to the commission disproved these claims.
The NSWNA commissioned one of Australia’s top auditors, Professor Robert Walker, to evaluate the capacity of the aged care industry to pay the pay rise. He testified that the industry was in a better financial position than they presented and could afford the pay rise.
Tony Pullman, AIN at Gertrude Abbott Nursing Home, said that nurses are very happy to be receiving the 6% pay rise. ‘It’s a reflection of the hard work we do and it’s great that we have recognition for that dedication.’
Since the pay rise was awarded, many nurses have been told by their employers that in order to pay for the increases their hours have to be cut; there will be fewer nurses on shifts; they are reducing the length of some shifts; and AINs are being reclassified to CSEs (Care Service Employees) to avoid the pay rise.
Brett Holmes said, ‘Aged Care nurses deserve this hard-earned pay rise. The Industrial Relations Commission found that proprietors can afford to pay the increases. Aged care nurses should not have to pay for their own pay rise.’
‘We are on the alert for employers who try to offset the pay rise by reducing hours or by reducing the number of nurses on shifts. Cost cutting measures like these have a negative impact on workloads and the health and safety of nurses,’ said Brett.
At some nursing homes, AINs are being pressured to change to CSEs. Brett warns members that this is yet another method to avoid paying the increases. ‘CSEs are classified under a different award and receive different entitlements to AINs. CSEs will not be eligible for the pay rise or other gains achieved in the pay case.’
‘Members should seek advice from the Association if they are being pressured to cut their hours or change to a CSE,’ Brett said.