Improving wages, entitlements and conditions was high on the agenda at our recent Annual Delegates Conference.
The 2020-24 public sector nurses and midwives enterprise agreement will expire on 30 April 2024. The public sector mental health EBA will expire on 31 December 2024. A number of private acute EBAs will expire in 2025.
Job Reps and Health and Safety Reps attending the Dels Conference debated and passed a number of resolutions that will more than likely be included in the members’ next log of claims.
These included a phased increase to compulsory employer superannuation from 10.5 per cent to 15.4 per cent, additional annual leave, an extension of weekend rates to include the Friday night shift and a wage increase greater than three per cent.
Other resolutions, also for consideration, were informed by the pandemic experience such as a per shift PPE allowance, an internal redeployment allowance and an extra five days leave if you are recalled from leave or have leave cancelled during a code brown. There was also a resolution calling for an EBA claim to relax personal leave evidence rules to be more aligned with the vigilance around cold and flu symptoms.
Career progression and reward were also covered with important resolutions to recognise endorsed midwives and improve pay rates for nurse and midwife practitioner candidates.
Many of the claims will also be considered for the public sector mental health nurses log of claims.
ANMF will present the final draft public sector log of claims to reps at next year’s Dels Conference prior to its presentation to the Branch Council. Bargaining with the Victorian Government and the Victorian Hospitals’ Industrial Association is expected to commence in September 2023.
We will use this log of claims and the outcome of the negotiations as the basis of our claims for all other members, including those in the private acute sector.
Thank you to the Job Reps and HSRs, particularly the first-time delegates, who consulted with their members and submitted motions to the conference to improve the working lives of ANMF members across Victoria.
Hopeful start to new Federal Parliament
The Federal Albanese Government is demonstrating that fixing aged care is a priority.
Its first bill introduced into the new Federal Parliament will increase the number of nurses in nursing homes through 24/7 requirements (87 per cent of Victorian private aged care EBAs already have this, but many other states do not) and mandated minimum daily care minutes per resident.
A second aged care bill to implement a significant number of aged care royal commission recommendations was also introduced. It was the first bill to pass both houses on 2 August.
So much time has been wasted since the royal commission released its final report and recommendations in March 2021. We are finally seeing the sense of urgency the aged care sector deserves.
ANMF has also welcomed ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler’s appointment to the Albanese Government’s Strengthening Medicare Taskforce. Nurses, midwives and personal care workers now have a voice at this important table to improve the fractured health and aged care systems and the lives of the patients, clients and residents they care for.
And lastly in a big week in Canberra, the Albanese Government introduced a bill to include 10 paid family violence leave days per year in the National Employment Standards. The NES currently has five unpaid days. This will make a significant difference to the lives of many, and particularly those members that are not employed in the Victorian public sector.
Omicron outbreak: cautious optimism
At the time of publication, the number of COVID patients was 743 and the number of public sector staff furloughed, mostly nurses and midwives, was 1784. The rolling seven-day average is 781 COVID patients hospitalised. We can be cautiously optimistic that the data is indicating Victoria had passed the peak of the latest Omicron outbreak.
While our members and the health and aged care systems are still heaving under the pressure of the unprecedented demand there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.
The majority of public health services are still at stage 3 of the Health System Winter Response. ANMF is reviewing member feedback to ensure that a return to stage 2 and nurse and midwife patient ratios (and the Andrews Government’s ratio improvement schedule) occurs not a day later than it should.