Negotiations continue with private aged care providers for improved wages, staffing levels and working conditions for about 14,000 Victorian aged care members.
Reasonable outcomes have now been reached with a number of major providers, including Japara, Arcare, Homestyle and Blue Cross. Discussions with Estia and Uniting Agewell are well advanced. Discussions with Regis and Allity (to be acquired shortly by Bolton Clarke) are in early stages.
Generally, the agreements in principle reached have involved shorter two-year agreements (expiring in 2023) for between 5 per cent and 5.5 per cent in wage increases over that period. In most cases there are additional improvements to paid parental leave, access to long service leave before 10 years and increased paid professional development leave.
‘At every member meeting that we have, staffing and workloads are the raised as key issues. Bargaining gives us the opportunity to keep pressing for improvements.’ – Acting Secretary Paul Gilbert
A number of other negotiations will start in the next few months including TLC Aged Care, Mercy Health Residential Aged Care, Doutta Galla Aged Care Services, Mecwacare, Villa Maria Catholic Homes, Benetas, Australian Unity and Hope Aged Care.
Most smaller stand-alone providers and small networks have already had several meetings, although many offers have been disappointing at around 1.5 per cent to 2.25 per cent per year for two years.
ANMF (Vic Branch) Acting Secretary Paul Gilbert said ‘it is really important that our aged care nurses and carers support the bargaining campaign for improved staffing, wages and conditions. You have borne the brunt of the pandemic and without your efforts the sector would not have coped as well as it has. Yes, there is uncertainty in the sector but that shouldn’t mean that you miss out on decent pay rises and improvements. At every member meeting that we have, staffing and workloads are the raised as key issues – bargaining gives us the opportunity to keep pressing for improvements.’
As indicated in our November update, the circumstances for this round of bargaining are more difficult than usual, with a new funding system due to begin in October 2022, a federal election due in the next four months and a promised revamp of the Aged Care Act (including the mandated staffing) by mid-2023. Employers are very cautious about committing to longer agreements, given all of these changes, as well as the continuing effects of COVID-19.
‘But nurses and carers deserve better, so we need to make the case. To make decent progress members will need to really engage in the campaign – please come to ANMF meetings when they are called, become a Job Rep or Health and Safety Rep, talk to your colleagues about the claims and tell your employers you want a fair deal,’ Mr Gilbert said.
Private aged care members are encouraged to add their staffing level information to our Care Minutes Portal