Nurses say ‘hands off our penalty rates’

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has vowed to fight any attempts by the Abbott Government to abolish penalty rates and other workplace awards for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing.

Acting ANMF Federal Secretary, Yvonne Chaperon, warned that stripping away workplace awards would only compound Australia’s critical shortage of nurses, with Australia needing 109,000 nurses by 2025. In the aged care sector alone, 20,000 nurses are currently needed to meet the challenges of Australia’s rapidly ageing population.

“Nurses and midwives can’t be living in fear of losing their penalty rates and loadings,” Ms Chaperon said.

“After all, they’re called to provide quality care at any hour of the day or night, weekends, public holidays and special days like Christmas – being taken away from their family and friends.

“When they get to work, they’re experiencing dangerously high workloads, because there’s no mandated nurse to patient ratios.

“Given that nursing and midwifery is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week profession, it’s only fair and reasonable that they continue to receive fair and proper remuneration.

“Penalty rates and shift loadings make up to 40 per cent of a Registered Nurse or Midwife’s actual remuneration as a result of their 24/7 work hours. Therefore taking away their penalties would mean a huge cut to their minimum wage.

”There will be little hope of retaining the current generation of nurses and midwives, let alone recruiting a future workforce, if the Abbott Government takes away these long-held entitlements.

“As a nation, it’s crucial that Australia needs to start building a nursing and midwifery workforce for the future. But that won’t happen if the Government makes nursing and midwifery less attractive by stripping away awards.

“The ANMF’s growing membership is angry and concerned and will fight any attempt to change the existing awards system.

“Their message to the Abbott Government is loud and clear: hands off our penalty rates.”


First published on the ANMF website on 11 February 2014.

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