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City of Melbourne shows no respect for its maternal and child health nurses

City of Melbourne shows no respect for its maternal and child health nurses

The City of Melbourne’s maternal and child health and immunisation nurses are taking protected industrial action after their employer rejected all their claims for improved working conditions and education entitlements.

More than 30 nurses are wearing red campaign t-shirts and stopping work to have discussions with new parents and members of the community to explain their dispute. The lawful industrial action began on 2 January.

Enterprise bargaining negotiations between the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) and the City of Melbourne began in March 2019. The last meeting between the parties was held in December.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Acting Secretary Paul Gilbert said: ‘We’re seeking improvements that will benefit the parents and their children living in Melbourne’s inner-city community.

Maternal and child health nurses are the cornerstone of Victoria’s universal preventative health system and provide early identification and intervention for Victorian children and families.

‘This work also includes identifying and referring vulnerable families at risk of family violence or distressed due to financial, disability, mental health or new migrant issues,’ Mr Gilbert said.

The nurses are seeking protection in the agreement to ensure Victoria’s unique triple maternal and child health qualifications remain mandatory for all maternal and child health positions at City of Melbourne.

Other claims include exam leave to improve access to further education.

‘Taking industrial action is always a last resort for nurses, however, City of Melbourne is showing it does not value or understand their important work particularly with families with increasingly complex needs,’ Mr Gilbert said.

‘Many of the claims are low or no cost and the City of Melbourne’s sweeping rejection of all claims, including those that improve education and knowledge, is incredibly disrespectful to its nurses.’

The nurses are seeking a four per cent pay rise per annum over three years. The City of Melbourne is offering two per cent per annum.

The current enterprise agreement expired in June 2019. The nurses’ last pay rise was 18 months ago.

The nurses are encouraging new parents and members of the public to support the campaign by emailing the City of Melbourne chief executive officer Justin Hanney.