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Darebin MCH and immunisation nurses stop work

Darebin MCH and immunisation nurses stop work

Darebin Council members undertake stop-work action on 27 June 2023. Pic: Natalie Pestana

To a chorus of chants and cars honking in solidarity, almost 40 Darebin City Council Maternal and Child Health (MCH) and immunisation nurses undertook a one hour stop-work outside the Preston Town Hall on Tuesday 27 June.

The stop work was part of their escalating protected industrial action which began on 18 May after enterprise bargaining negotiations between ANMF and the council, which began in September 2022, reached a stalemate. The current EBA expired in mid-2022.

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).

ANMF Assistant Secretary Madeleine Harradence said Darebin nurses’ industrial action is especially close to her heart as a resident of Darebin who uses the service.

‘We don’t do this on a whim. We do this as a result of not being heard.’

She said that council refused to enshrine into the new EBA education allowances and recognise the increased 45 minute (from 30 minutes) key ages and stages appointment times, which was a state government election promise.

Additionally, nurses are also disappointed the council has withdrawn an earlier agreement to their gender equity claim – superannuation on unpaid parental leave and have not agreed to five days paid professional development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.

Job Rep Jodee Roberts, a MCH nurse for nearly 20 years said she and her colleagues would like to see fairer wages and conditions to reflect their triple qualifications and the extra workload, including family violence screenings and autism assessments.

‘Our pay hasn’t increased. Darebin is not keeping up with what we’re expected to do.’

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.

The nurses are encouraging new parents and the community to support the campaign by emailing Darebin City Council CEO Peter Smith to tell him to give maternal and child health and immunisation nurses respectful and fair wages and conditions.