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Darebin City Council MCH nurses’ stop work community rally over fair pay

Darebin City Council MCH nurses’ stop work community rally over fair pay

Stop work community rally Tuesday 27 June, 12.30pm – 1.30pm outside Preston Townhall, corner High and Gower Streets, Preston.

Darebin City Council’s maternal and child health and immunisation nurses have voted to escalate their protected industrial action with a stop work community rally on Tuesday 27 June outside Preston Town Hall.

Enterprise bargaining negotiations between the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) and Darebin City Council, which began in September 2022, have reached a stalemate. The current EBA expired in mid-2022.

Almost 40 ANMF members began taking protected industrial action on 18 May to secure a fair pay rise and improved working conditions. Bans included wearing red campaign t-shirts and stopping work to explain their dispute to new parents and members of the community.

Bans increased on Thursday 22 June which include refusing to attend meetings with the council’s chief executive officer Peter Smith, refusing to complete annual review paperwork, refusing to work overtime, limiting reading and responding to management emails and referring general inquiries to the 24-hour maternal and child health nurse telephone line.

From Monday 26 June the nurses will limit the number of appointments per day to six, excluding the enhanced maternal and child health visits.

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.

The nurses are seeking a three-year agreement with improved entitlements, including a parking permit for community MCHN visits, improved education access, 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, 3 per cent or $45 a week (whichever is greater) from July 2023 and the higher of either 2% or 85% per cent of the 1 July 2024 unknown rate cap or $35 a week, or $15 on each percentage of the rate cap (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) Assistant Secretary Madeleine Harradence said: ‘Darebin’s maternal and child health nurses and immunisation nurses are not taking this industrial action lightly and will ensure there is no risk to families.

‘They are asking for reasonable improvements and recognition for their important work. Council needs to understand that fair wage increases and improved working conditions are the key to maintaining this essential workforce and their primary health care service to local families.’

The nurses are encouraging new parents and the community to support the campaign by emailing Darebin City Council CEO Peter Smith.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) has more than 99,000 members – nurses, midwives and aged care personal care workers – across the Victorian health and aged care sectors.