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Solidarity in action: stand up for members at Bolton Clarke, and elsewhere

Solidarity in action: stand up for members at Bolton Clarke, and elsewhere

It’s been a very busy start to 2024, leading up to a statewide members meeting organised in three days immediately before our annual two-day delegates conference.

To see members’ positive reactions to the EBA outcome – negotiated by ANMF, inclusive of a 28.4% (compounded) wage increase over four years – at the statewide members meetings on 26 June was a moment I will never forget. At site after site across the state, watching your hands go up in waves, makes my work and that of everybody at ANMF totally worth it. I sincerely hope it made your day too.

You are ANMF, and we only ever achieve the gains we have through solidarity.

Over the past few months of the public sector campaign, we have gained many new members, many new Job Reps – the highest number since counting began! – and many new activists, ready to stand up with their colleagues.

It’s been eight years since Victoria’s public sector nurses and midwives last took industrial action, and well over a decade since they took sustained industrial action in such numbers. This means we now have an entirely new generation of nurse and midwife campaigners, with entirely new expectations and ideas.

We have learned from you, embracing new technologies and new ways of doing things. We hope you have learned from us, from our collective decades of experience.

This is solidarity in action.

Solidarity is the very beating heart of unionism. It’s also vital for healthy, happy workplaces. And for cohesive, well-functioning societies.

Solidarity means standing up not just for yourself, your colleagues and your patients, consumers, residents and families, but also for nurses, midwives and carers across the state, in different sectors.

So while we celebrate the wins achieved by more than 60,000 ANMF public sector members, I encourage you to join us in supporting other members whose fight continues.

On Monday, around 1700 members who work for Bolton Clarke begin protected industrial action. You can read about why more than 98% of these members voted yes to taking action but the bottom line is that this employer has offered its nurses, midwives and carers – already among the lowest paid in the state – a mind-bogglingly insulting 2% pay rise over the life of the agreement.

Not 2% per year. 2% in total.

This is up from 0% a few weeks ago, and protected industrial action is just beginning. Imagine where we might get to if every nurse, midwife and carer in the state signed our petition, or spoke out – just as public sector nurses and midwives did just a few weeks ago.

The media wants to hear from nurses and midwives right now. Let’s use the momentum gained by the public sector campaign, and stand with our colleagues at Bolton Clarke.

Elsewhere, bargaining for the public sector mental health agreement is about to begin. Mental health members can expect an update in the next week or so. Bargaining for several private acutes is underway, or will begin again in earnest now that we have the new public sector outcome as a benchmark. Bargaining for many of the larger private acutes begins in 2025.

With over 100,000 members, the Branch has never been busier – or stronger. And with everything we have learned over recent months, and the momentum we have gained, we have never had so much power to stand up, speak out and win big.

Solidarity is how we do it.

I want to offer my personal thanks to Assistant Secretary Paul Gilbert, who has spent many months deeply immersed in spreadsheets and EBA clauses, day and night. Paul is taking some long service leave until January 2025. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s very well-deserved.

Next month, we’ll welcome Assistant Secretary Maddy Harradence back from parental leave on. Until then, Sam Casey will continue acting in the role along with Professional Officer Libby Muir.