The country’s largest health union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), has expressed its outrage that the Federal Government has axed wage improvements for low-paid aged care nurses.
Federal Secretary, Lee Thomas said the ANMF and its members were appalled the Coalition Government had used its numbers in Parliament last week to vote against Labor’s earlier move to restore the Workforce Supplement – robbing nurses and aged care workers of improved wages, training and working conditions.
“After fighting so long for improved wages and working conditions, aged care workers have seen their wage increases axed in the final sitting days of Parliament, without any real consultation or consideration from the Government,” Ms Thomas said.
“Clearly, the Government has chosen to place the profits of some aged care providers ahead of the interests of thousands of frontline nurses and care workers across the country by scrapping the Workforce Supplement.
“The Government owes an explanation not only to nurses and aged care workers robbed of their wage rise, but to the elderly Australians they care for each and every day.”
Ms Thomas said the Workforce Supplement was the first time Government funding has directly flowed into the pockets of under-paid nurses and care workers.
“We’re concerned that if funding didn’t reach nurses and workers in previous funding allocations, it certainly won’t reach them now, given the Government intends to re-allocate the agreed workforce funding,” she said.
“The ANMF has approximately 90% of the aged care sector already covered by enterprise agreements and these agreements award all nurses and in many cases assistants in nursing wages and conditions that are above the award.
“If we cannot recruit and retain nursing and care staff in the aged care sector through improved wages and working conditions delivered through the Workforce Supplement, the ANMF believes it’s going to be older Australians primarily living in nursing homes who will ultimately suffer through poorer care outcomes.
“The Government will have a lot to answer for.”