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Public sector EBA 2024: what’s next?

Public sector EBA 2024: what’s next?

Image: A collage of photos taken at the fourth statewide members meeting on the 26 June 2024.

At a statewide meeting on Wednesday 26 June, public sector members voted overwhelmingly to endorse a government offer for a 28.4 per cent (compounded) wage increase by November 2027 and more than 70 improvements to allowances, penalties and terms and conditions.

View a photo gallery of the meetings.

So the offer has been endorsed by members – what happens now?

When members who attended the nine statewide meetings voted, they were voting to endorse the offer – in essence, to say: we think this offer is ready to put to an official ballot of all public sector nurses and midwives covered by the EBA.

The statewide member meeting endorsement vote is the democratic process that ANMF (Vic Branch) has followed for 30 years to determine when ANMF support the government offer being put to a formal ballot of all employees.

The formal ballot of all employees is a legal requirement under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Prior to any formal ballot, eligible employees (all those who will be covered by the agreement) must have a seven-day access period to the agreement. During this seven-day access period, the employer is legally required to provide all eligible employees access to a copy of the proposed EBA that includes both the written text of the agreement and any other material incorporated by reference in the agreement. There must also be an accompanying document summarising the changes in the new agreement compared to the existing agreement.

During the access period, the employer must take all reasonable steps to notify eligible employees about the voting process, including the time and place it will occur and the method by which it will occur.

ANMF will also provide a further summary of the proposed agreement so that members are clear about what they are voting on.

At the conclusion of the access period, voting can begin. This will be similar to the protected industrial action ballot conducted earlier in the year – an electronic ballot.

We don’t yet know the exact timing of when the access period and the formal ballot will occur, as there are several steps that must be completed first to ensure legal compliance.

Formal ballot

If the majority of all public sector nurses and midwives covered by the agreement who vote accept the new agreement, an application for approval will then be made to the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

The Commission must then go through every clause of the agreement to ensure that all aspects of the agreement comply with various pieces of legislation and that all the legally required steps and processes have been followed and that everything is in order.

The 2020 agreement runs to almost 300 pages; the 2024 agreement is even longer. So this process can take some time.

If the FWC finds everything to be in order and approves the agreement, the agreement will then become legally enforceable seven days later.

What about other agreements?

The public sector agreement is the state’s biggest – covering more than 60,000 nurses and midwives – but it is just one of more than 250 different EBAs covering Victorian ANMF members, across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

The size of the membership covered by the public sector EBA, and the capacity to achieve change that is generated by such numbers, is what makes the public sector agreement the benchmark for all other agreements ANMF negotiates.

This includes the public sector mental health agreement, which nominally expires on 31 December this year and is about to be renegotiated, as well as private acute facilities and smaller private workplaces such as residential aged care facilities, bush nursing hospitals, local governments, palliative care, dialysis, endoscopy, radiology, pathology and IVF clinics.

You can find your EBA – and its expiry date – in the member portal, under ‘My Membership’.