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Members have rejected the government’s offer. What happens next?

Members have rejected the government’s offer. What happens next?

It was a wonderful feeling to see so many members gathering together and proudly wearing their red campaign t-shirts for the first statewide members meeting of the 2024 public sector EBA campaign.

For the first time ever, we held the meeting at ANMF in Melbourne and at seven regional venues across Victoria simultaneously. This posed a few technical challenges, though nothing we have not overcome before thanks to COVID and ultimately the meeting ran to schedule and as planned.

Assistant Secretary Paul Gilbert gave a report back to members on the state-of-play regarding our negotiations for the public sector Nurses and Midwives EBA 2024-2028, including the government offer.

The seriously inadequate offer was unanimously rejected and members authorised ANMF to not only continue negotiating on your behalf but to make an application to the Fair Work Commission for a protected industrial action ballot order. This was done promptly after the meeting and on Thursday 4 April, the Fair Work Commission approved the application.

There are several steps we need to take at this point, some simultaneously, but the key one right now for members is to ensure they are able to participate in the campaign and prepare for action that may be organised subject to negotiation progress.

Those of you who were unable to join us at the first meeting, never fear: there will be more. And now is the time to get organised. You will start seeing the red ‘retain recruit rebuild’ campaign t-shirts and bandanas around – note: you cannot wear them at work until we are engaging in protected industrial action. But you can wear them outside of working hours to help raise community awareness.

You can collect your t-shirt and/or bandana at the next meeting. If you can’t wait until then, check with your Organiser as they have started bringing t-shirts with them when they visit workplaces.

The April-June issue of The Handover members’ magazine will start arriving in your mailboxes from this week (The Handover is the Victorian-specific magazine inside the national Australian Nursing & Midwifery Journal). Inside, Paul has explained a few of the member claims designed to address casualisation.

This is important because while Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) registration figures reveal that there are now more nurses practising in Victoria than in any other state or territory – with 116,610 Victorian nurses to NSW’s 114,737 (see below for more details) – filling rosters remains challenging because nurses and midwives are reducing their hours and moving from permanent to casual employment.

This rapid and continuing casualisation of the workforces in turn leads employers to default to greater reliance on overtime, and an increasing reliance on an agency workforce. This has a detrimental effect on all of us.

We have experienced this before, in the 1990s, and were successful in turning it around then – working together, we can succeed again.

Total NMBA nurse and midwife registration numbers December 2019–December 2023

Victoria NSW
December 2019 110,834 112,880
December 2023 128,305 126,416
Growth (net) 17,471 13,536

We will remember them

At the Australian Nurses Memorial Centre’s ANZAC Day commemorative service I will be laying a wreath, honouring all nurses, past and present, who have given their lives for their country. Thank you to other ANMF members who also take the time to lay a wreath at their local Anzac Day service.

While recognising and honouring the nurses who have made the ultimate sacrifice during wartime, we cannot ignore the innocent civilian victims of current hostilities, whether in Palestine and Israel, in Ukraine or Sudan or any of the hundreds of armed conflicts currently occurring around the world.

These innocent victims include healthcare and aid workers – such as Melbourne’s Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom, who was distributing food in Gaza over Easter when she and six of her colleagues were killed by an Israeli airstrike.

In the aftermath of this unconscionable attack on humanitarian workers – who, by all accounts, had coordinated their movements with the Israel Defence Forces and were working in a ‘deconflicted’ zone – ANMF calls on Prime Minister Albanese and other world leaders for action, not just condemnations. We need advocacy for concrete solutions, and we need it now.

The Branch remains firm in its support for a ceasefire, the release of all hostages and the safe return of humanitarian relief, particularly to those in Gaza. Short of this occurring, we echo the sentiments of both the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) in demanding the immediate end to targeting civilians and healthcare or aid institutions and workers during armed conflict.

The ICM established its #NursesforPeace campaign two years ago in response to the situation in Ukraine. Now #NursesforPeace is providing a range of support to nurses in various hotspots around the world, including Afghanistan, Sudan, Myanmar, Israel and Palestine.

Members who wish to support the campaign can do so via icn.ch/donate-nursesforpeace. If you prefer to donate locally, you could try Union Aid Abroad APHEDA, which was founded in 1984 by ANF (as ANMF was then known) member Helen McCue.

Sam Casey

Rachel Halse will shortly be returning to her usual role as Professional Officer, and Ms Sam Casey takes over the Acting Assistant Secretary role until September 2024 for the remainder of Maddy Harradence’s parental leave.

Together with Paul Gilbert, I look forward to working with Sam in this role for several months. When you see her out and about, give her a shout out!

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