No Christmas joy for nurses worried about penalty rates

While families across Australia are busy making Christmas plans, members of the country’s largest health and aged care union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), are busy planning shift work away from their loved ones.

With the looming threat of losing penalty rates and loadings for working around the clock to provide life-saving nursing and midwifery care, most are so worried about these potential cuts they have told the ANMF they would leave the profession.

“As shoppers count the number of days to Christmas, Australian nurses and midwives are counting their dollars and the number of days before their shift loadings and penalty rates look set to come under threat,” said ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas.

“They have reason to be worried with the draft report of the Productivity Commission into workplace relations targeting retail and hospitality industry workers and we wonder how long it will be before nurses and midwives are under threat.

“Our 250,000 members rely on being fairly compensated for working shifts over Christmas and other special days including public holidays and weekends.

“In a recent survey of members across the country they told us 80% would consider abandoning the profession if they lost penalty rates.

“The ANMF will soon release the full results of this survey in a comprehensive report on the economic and health impact of cutting penalty rates which found permanent nurses rely on penalties for a fifth of their income.

“Nurses and midwives across the country are making Christmas plans with their families that involve them going to work and caring for other people’s families.

“They should not have to sacrifice fair wages for these sacrifices.

“This is the message being shared today in South Australia where our members will join with other unions to mark the 12 Days of Christmas.

“Let’s hope there are many more days of Christmas where nurses and midwives are not targeted because they are required to work 24/7 all throughout the year,” Ms Thomas said.

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