Darebin City Council’s maternal and child health and immunisation nurses are taking protected industrial action as part of their campaign to secure a fair wage rise and improved working conditions.
Almost 40 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 action began on 18 May.
Maternal and child health nurses, the cornerstone of Victoria’s universal preventative health system, provide early assessment, identification and intervention for babies, children and families. They also identify and refer vulnerable families at risk of family violence or distress due to financial, disability, mental health or new migrant issues.
Enterprise bargaining negotiations between the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) and the Council began in September 2022. The current EBA expired in mid-2022.
The nurses are seeking a three-year agreement with improved entitlements and a three per cent pay rise or $45 per week increase (whichever is greater) from 1 July 2022, 3.5 per cent increase or $45 per week (whichever is greater) from 1 July 2023 and 3.2 per cent increase or $45 per week from 1 July 2024.
ANMF members voted to reject the council’s position which fails to improve on the two per cent increase or $30 a week (whichever is greater) already paid administratively from July 2022, 2.8 per cent or $35 a week (whichever is greater) from July 2023 and 80 per cent of the 1 July 2024 unknown rate cap or $35 a week (whichever is greater).
Nurses are also disappointed the council has withdrawn an earlier agreement to their gender equity claim – superannuation on unpaid parental leave and have not agreed to five days paid professional development leave.
ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: ‘Council needs to understand that a fair wage increase and improved working conditions are key to growing and retaining experienced maternal and child health and immunisation nurses to meet the needs of Darebin’s new babies, toddlers and young children and their families.
‘Industrial action is always a last resort for nurses, however, Darebin City Council’s mean-spirited and convoluted wage offer disregards their nurses’ challenging pandemic work and the financial pressures they’re facing. It also demonstrates it doesn’t have a workforce retention or growth plan.’
The nurses are encouraging new parents and the community to support the campaign by emailing Darebin City Council CEO Peter Smith.