Mental health negotiations continue into 2021
Since the last member update EBA negotiation meetings with the employers’ representative, the Victorian Hospitals’ Industrial Association (VHIA), the Department of Health and Human Services and the Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) have occurred weekly. The last meeting for this year was held on Thursday 17 December 2020.
Negotiation meetings will resume in the week commencing 11 January 2021.
We are disappointed the agreement has not yet been finalised, particularly as nurses employed under the 2020 public sector nurses and midwives agreement have now received their 3% wage increase from the first full pay period on or after 1 December 2020. This pay increase was part of the eight-year wages agreement reached by ANMF in 2016, and endorsed again by members in April 2020.
As part of this bargaining round, ANMF has sought wage and allowance increases for registered nurses (RPN) and enrolled nurses (PEN) working under the mental health agreement to maintain parity with nurses working under the 2020 public sector nurses and midwives agreement. VHIA has agreed in principle to this same wages claim for ANMF mental health nurse members.
As previously advised existing conditions in the mental health agreement are not under threat and all the improved outcomes achieved in the 2020-24 public sector nurses and midwives agreement, consistent with previous EBAs, are currently supported by the VHIA and Victorian Government representatives.
Progress on members’ EBA claims
As previously reported ANMF continues to seek to secure and address workload issues for nurses working in mental health services, as well as ensuring safe, consistent and quality care for the Victorian community.
The ANMF has tabled a document mapping the staffing of nurses on each shift in each bed-based unit across the state.
As previously stated, this data is central to pressing our claim for mandatory minimum staffing levels in the replacement agreement and builds on the outcome of the high dependency unit ratios achieved in 2016. It is now the most contemporary record of nurse staffing levels in Victoria’s mental health system.
At this stage VHIA has still not yet confirmed the data nor identified any objections to the data provided.
ANMF also continues to pursue claims relating to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System’s interim report including the reintroduction of stand-alone mobile support teams and crisis assessment and treatment (CATT) teams and claims to provide certainty about staffing of bed-based units. We note that the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System will release its final report on 5 February 2021.
Other related claims seek to address issues relating to the staffing of high dependency units to the detriment of the low dependency units and seeking to increase and strengthen nursing positions for community mental health.
We are expecting a response to all of these claims in the new year.
Discussions and exchange of drafts for ANMF claims continue
Where ANMF claims are relevant to, or of interest to HACSU, ANMF continues to schedule separate meetings to progress these claims with the aim of having a unified position to negotiate with the employer. These include claims relating to strengthening obligations for backfilling of leave absences, Community Workload Management System (CWMS) and matters relating to high dependency unit staffing.
HACSU industrial action
ANMF understands that HACSU continues its protected industrial action campaign.
ANMF respects HACSU members’ right to take protected industrial action. We remind ANMF members that they are not required to complete additional tasks or undertake any activities vacated by their HACSU colleagues, arising as a result of them engaging in protected industrial action.
Only HACSU members are legally entitled to take protected industrial action.
Negotiations are set to resume in January 2021.
ANMF has provided nursing profile data of staffing levels in all mental health units and is seeking the inclusion of this nursing data in the next enterprise agreement, as a minimum level, to ensure the expertise of mental health nurses remains accessible to all Forensicare consumers.
At this stage we have not had a response from the employer.
Thank you for your support
It’s been a stressful year for our public sector mental health and Forensicare members, who have provided care for Victorian patients and clients under difficult conditions, with extraordinary resilience.
Thank you for your support during the negotiations and for your quick responses to all ANMF requests for assistance with data and mapping.
ANMF (Vic Branch) wishes you and your families and friends a safe, peaceful and happy Christmas and 2021.
ANMF Christmas and New Year closure
The ANMF office will be closed from 1pm, Thursday 24 December and re-open 8.45am, Monday 4 January. During this time an ANMF officer will be on-call (except on public holidays and weekends) between 8.45am and 5pm, for urgent matters only, such as a member being dismissed. Please call 9275 9333 and follow the prompts.
For non-urgent matters, you may find the information you need on our member assistance page or complete our member assistance inquiry form.
Member assistance inquiries lodged within the above dates will be responded to until after 4 January 2021 with priority given to the most urgent.
For information about support services and the Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria during the Christmas closure period visit bit.ly/3pbdb12
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