Private nurses and midwives reject ‘paltry’ pay offer

Hundreds of nurses and midwives at two major Sydney private hospitals have voted down a new enterprise agreement with employer St Vincent’s Health Australia (SVHA), after labelling it ‘disrespectful’ and ‘beyond disappointing’.

For more than six months, NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) members at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Darlinghurst and North Sydney’s Mater Private Hospital pleaded with SVHA to improve staffing ratios and conditions in the proposed agreement, as well as its 3.75 per cent pay offer.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said the resounding ‘no’ ballot result was justified and called on SVHA to return to the negotiating table with tangible offers which recognise the professionalism and value of their nursing and midwifery workforce.

“The nurses and midwives of St Vincent’s Private and Mater hospitals deserve better. They should be afforded the right to feel safe and supported in their workplaces, and to feel valued by their employer,” said Ms Candish.

“The proposed three-year agreement did not address our members’ concerns on constant understaffing, the need for nurse-to-patient ratios or improvements to midwifery staffing. The pay offer SVHA put on the table also failed to acknowledge the financial pressures staff are impacted by.

“In light of the recent Fair Work Commission announcement of a 5.75 per cent pay increase for those on award wages, SVHA really does need to do better.”

NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary, Michael Whaites, said after the NSW government committed to introduce Safe Staffing Levels into public hospital, SVHA should have revised its proposed agreement to include safe ratios.

“Understandably, many of these private sector nurses and midwives are concerned they will continue to lose experienced staff out of the private hospitals, as they seek out better working conditions in the public health system,” said Mr Whaites.

“We will continue to put forward the evidence-based case for nurse-to-patient ratios across a number of specialty areas during future negotiations with SVHA.”

NSWNMA members will now consider next steps and have not ruled out expanded types of industrial action at either hospital.

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