Members reject wage offer
On Tuesday 3 August, the Victorian Government tabled an offer in relation to the mental health enterprise agreement negotiations. We understand the offer included 60 of the 83 member claims in our log of claims, first tabled in May 2020.
However, the eight per cent, over four years, wages offer is completely unacceptable to our members. This offer would result in mental health nurses falling well behind your counterparts in general nursing. It has been resoundingly rejected by members at our statewide members’ meeting held virtually on 4 August. Members overwhelmingly voted to endorse a resolution expressing their frustration and seeking that ANMF urgently progress and finalise these protracted negotiations with a fair and reasonable offer that respects the valuable work of mental health nurses and achieves parity with general nurses. ANMF has already written to Deputy Premier and Mental Health Minister James Merlino, on 5 August regarding this wages offer and other outstanding matters. Read the letter.
ANMF member claims included in offer
As mentioned above, this offer does include 60 member claims. This is clearly welcomed. These agreed claims were tabled at our statewide members’ meeting on Wednesday. Some of these key claims include: paid parental leave quantum consistent with what has been achieved in the general nurses and midwives, improvement to rostering, on-call and security of employment for graduate and postgraduate students.
Further, through negotiations it was proposed to include a royal commission facilitative clause and a Best Practice Employment Commitment (BPEC) committee, which ANMF is supportive of and was included in this offer.
Members are well aware of current pressures, including nursing vacancies across the state. Our claim for inclusion of agreed staffing profiles (defined as adequate numbers of nursing staff) is critical to ensuring a safe framework for staffing arrangements in mental health. We also put forward our claim for improved staffing levels, including (at a minimum) an uplift in EFT for secure extended care units (SECUs) and Aged on nightshift. Unfortunately, this has not been included in this offer.
All parties have spent a considerable amount of time on developing a new CWMS tool for crisis teams as we know from members that there has been varying compliance with the current clause. Frustratingly, this new CWMS clause has not been included in the offer, nor has there been any improvements to the current CWMS clause to more executive oversight of the CWMAS tool as per our claim.
Our claims for better skill mix and recognition of nurses in community mental health teams is also not included. Sadly, all other parties in bargaining have consistently refused to consider any of the above important claims related to community mental health nursing. ANMF understand that the only part of the offer that mentions skill mix is a commitment to discuss skill mix in community mental health teams at the BPEC committee (when formed). This in conflict with the mental health royal commission which found that ‘the generic case management model means that many consumers do not receive specialised therapies suited to their needs’.
Finally, ANMF sought for the inclusion of funded Graduate Support Nurses across the state, recognising the needs of early career and graduate nurses in a rapidly changing mental health system. Whilst the position descriptor appears to have been agreed, no funding has been included in this offer.
HACSU industrial action
ANMF members must understand that they are not legally able to partake in protected industrial action. If the ANMF considers that this is necessary for our members in order to resolve and finalise these negotiations, then we will provide you that advice. However, such decisions are not taken lightly and ANMF does not consider that this offer, whilst inadequate in terms of wages and a few other claims, requires such drastic action. ANMF is confident that we can finalise these outstanding matters, and achieve a wages deal that is fair and equitable with general nurses.