The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) is preparing to take the fight of undervalued maternal and child health nurses in Geelong to the Fair Work Commission.
Around 40 nurses will today make a protected industrial action ballot application against Geelong City Council over its refusal to improve their working conditions in line with benefits at other nearby Victorian councils.
A successful ballot does not mean ANMF members will take industrial action however they will be protected by law if they decide to take action at a later time if an agreement cannot be reached.
Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement have been underway for 16 months and while some improvements have been made to working conditions, including payrises of up to 2.3% per year for four years, negotiations over key entitlements have now stalled, ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said.
“Maternal and child health nurses play a critical role in the community and care for new mothers and babies in the days after they leave hospital through to when they reach school age,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.
“Following the Andrews Government’s $133 million commitment to addressing family violence and early intervention care for new parents, babies and toddlers, maternal child health nurses often find themselves on the frontline and are the first responders to discover unsafe relationships and provide the earliest support.
“The Federal Award (Nurses (ANMF- Victorian Local Government) Award 2015) provides five weeks’ leave to maternal child health nurses and these leave entitlements recognise, reward and value the important work that these nurses do and the breaks they require for their own health and wellbeing.
“We are seeking this extra week’s holidays (5) for the maternal child health nurses in Geelong, in line with the state award and nurse entitlements in neighbouring municipalities.
“Industrial action is always a last resort, but this current offer will leave them behind public sector nurses and neighbouring local government maternal and child health nurses.”
In addition to five weeks annual leave, ANMF is also seeking:
- unlimited access to purchase leave arrangements in line with what other employees at Geelong Council are able to access; and
- to attach the Modern Award to the proposed Agreement (Under the City of Greater Geelong Enterprise Agreement 2018)
Councils who provide benchmark employment conditions for maternal child health nurses include – Wyndham, Port Phillip, Nillumbik, Mitchell Shire, Mornington, Horsham, Brimbank, Alpine, West Wimmera, Glenelg and Greater Shepparton.
ANMF asks that the community and fellow council employees stand with the nurses in solidarity at this time to assist us in resolving this important issue in the negotiations.