Public sector nurses and midwives
AEC public sector nurses' & midwives' ballot update
As at 2pm today some 8140 nurses' and midwives' ballots had been counted with 98.3 per cent of Victorian public sector nurses and midwives voting yes. These are unofficial figures at this stage and members will be notified as soon as a formal outcome is known.
When the Australian Electoral Commission officially declares a ‘Yes' vote, the next step will be for Fair Work Australia to approve the enterprise agreement. Once this FWA proceeding is completed the agreement comes into effect seven days later.
Public sector mental health nurses
Constructive mental health nurses' meetings held
As reported in EBA Update 64 , Commissioner Gooley in late May requested senior Baillieu Government representatives come to the negotiating table to finalise the agreement. The Government have responded by sending the Department of Health Acting Secretary Mr Lance Wallace and Victorian Hospitals' Industrial Association (VHIA) Chief Executive Officer Mr Alec Djoneff to the negotiations. Two very constructive meetings have taken place. Commissioner Gooley was unable to schedule further meetings during business hours this week due to other commitments, but did make herself available in the evenings. A further difficulty has been HACSU's inability to attend the EBA negotiations while their senior official has been in Sydney giving evidence in the Federal Court proceedings regarding HSUeast. ANF and HACSU tried to secure an evening meeting on Thursday 7 June but prior engagements meant the senior Government representatives were unable to attend.
ANF shares mental health nurse members' frustration that this agreement has not been resolved. It is a more complex process because the agreement does not just cover mental health nurses. ANF is confident the attendance of the senior Government representatives signals a new positive phase in the campaign that can lead to a resolution.
Fair Work Australia decision: mental health agreement cover widens
Contributing to the frustrating delay in the negotiations has been the issues between HSUeast and HACSU about whether or not the mental health agreement will cover all mental health professionals and mental health administrative and support staff. Commissioner Cribb resolved this issue in a Fair Work Australia hearing on 28 May 2012 and her decision means all of the above groups of mental health employees are now included in this enterprise agreement.
Important mental health nurse issues to be resolved:
- The implementation date because this will dictate how much back pay mental health nurses receive. ANF is adamant the implementation date must be at least the same as the public sector nurses' and midwives' agreement which is 31 March 2012. Progress is being made on this issue.
- The agreement must address mental health nurses' workloads in inpatient units and community mental health teams.
- The agreement must include the relevant outcomes of the public sector nurses' and midwives' agreement such as merging the registered nurse and enrolled nurse conditions and entitlements and the new single night duty allowance of $62.80. Significant progress has been made on these issues.
- The agreement must address mental health nurse specific issues. This includes ANF seeking to protect the mental health nursing EFT won in past agreements as well as ensuring additional mental health nursing EFT secured in this round of negotiations are documented in the enterprise agreement. This will ensure transparency of funding and means hospitals must use funding provided for mental health nurses and direct care services on mental health nurses and direct care services. This also includes a new career structure for enrolled nurses working in mental health.
ANF available 24 hours a day to negotiate
All ANF offials and relevant staff have made themselves available for negotiations day or night every day this week and next week and are working hard to ensure further meetings take place with the people who can finalise this agreement. ANF is confident the issues can be resolved in the very near future if the senior Government decision-makers remain at the negotiating table.
ANF is hoping to schedule a statewide mental health members' meeting in the week commencing Monday 18 June 2012 to provide an offer from the Government for members' consideration. Further details will be emailed in EBA Updates to members.
Protected action ballot
ANF mental health members' protected action ballot outcome, declared on 4 November 2011, is still in force. Members will be aware that HACSU has applied for another protected action ballot and a successful outcome was declared by the Australian Electoral Commission on 7 June 2012.
Mental health nurses' petition to Premier Baillieu jumps by 2000 signatures
It was fantastic to see the support for the mental health nurses' Respect Our Work campaign surge recently with the online petition to Premier Ted Baillieu and Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge jumping by more than 2000 signatures over the past ten days. At the time of print the petition was at 2736. Thank you to everyone who has signed the petition and shared the link with their colleagues, friends and families. Thank you also to those who shared their stories about mental health nursing or about their experience with the mental health system. Mental health members are encouraged to read the comments of support on the petition from other nurses, midwives and patients and their families for their campaign for more nurses, better workloads and improved wages.
Every time someone signs the online petition Premier Baillieu and Minister Wooldridge receive an email. If you haven't signed the peition yet or want to read the comments go to www.tiny.cc/anfpetition and please forward this link on to your networks.
Members are also encouraged to keep wearing their red Respect Our Work T-shirts because they are a great way to start a conversation with people in the community about the important issues we are still fighting for in mental health.
Members are also encouraged to keep using the Respect our Work facebook campaign page www.facebook.com.au/resepctourwork to talk about and support the mental health nurses' campaign for improved workloads, wages and conditions.
Support for the Australian Education Union Victorian Branch
Thank you to the ANF members who supported yesterday's public sector teachers' and principals' one-day strike by greeting them as they marched up Bourke Street towards Parliament House. We've had great feedback from teachers that your presence was important and really appreciated.
ANF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick spoke at the rally and told the teachers not to back down and hold Premier Baillieu to his election promise. She highlighted the importance of continuity of quality education for students which was impossible with so many teachers on 12-month contracts and living year-to-year. Addressing the crowd of thousands, Lisa was able to use the opportunity to let the community know that ANF was still fighting to improve mental health services by achieving a fair outcome for mental health nurses' workloads, wages and conditions - despite the incorrect public perception that all negotiations were finished.
AEU officials and members provided significant support to public sector nurses and midwives during their campaign including attending the 30 rallies across the state in December 2011 and walking out with members during February and March this year so that nurses knew they were not alone in their struggle to protect patient care.