So you’ve familiarised yourself with your EBA, and you want to improve it? Here’s how.
EBAs are legal documents that are usually negotiated by unions such as ANMF – informed by and on behalf of their members – with employers and/or their representatives.
Most nurses and midwives, no matter how clinically knowledgeable, do not have legal backgrounds nor are they necessarily familiar with employment law. ANMF employs people experienced and educated in employment law who work with other staff – such as your ANMF elected officials, organisers, OH&S officers and professional officers, as well as ANMF members at your workplace – to help do the work of negotiating EBAs on your behalf.
There are at least 250 different EBAs covering Victorian ANMF members, across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. The life of these EBAs is generally around three to four years. As they are about to expire, we can renegotiate them – and seek improved pay and conditions in any new EBA.
Under national law, negotiations can only happen within strict timeframes. The current public sector EBA – which expires 30 April 2024 – allows for bargaining to begin six months before the EBA’s expiry date. This is why the process could not legally begin before October 2023.
Before negotiations commence, we utilise that time to develop a log of claims.
Log of claims
The log of claims is basically union speak for a wish list of ‘asks’, such as pay improvements and better or new conditions, that ANMF members want their employer to agree to (and which are lawful).
ANMF develops the claims based on many things, including:
- consultation with members
- problems experienced during the life of the current agreement
- changes in legislation
- resolutions passed by Job Reps and HSRs at delegates conferences
- general knowledge of the sector and other healthcare workers, including what is happening interstate.
We encourage you to get involved in this process by speaking with your colleagues and coming up with ideas (motions) for improvements that can be submitted for debate at delegates conferences.
Negotiations can be tricky, and slow. Employers have their own claims and often don’t want to agree to ANMF member claims.
Some employers simply refuse to negotiate. In such cases, we can – through a kind of legal petition that requires majority support from the employees covered by the EBA – force them to the negotiating table.
Negotiations can also reach a point where the employer won’t budge on an inadequate offer, and we cannot recommend the negotiated outcome to members. If we cannot recommend accepting the offer, we can exercise your legally protected right to take industrial action – but to do so, we need majority support from members. This is why it’s crucial that members are engaged.