Communist Party of Australia  

Home


The Guardian

Current Issue

PDF Archive

Web Archive

Pete's Corner

Subscribe

Press Fund


CPA


About Us

Why you should ...

CPA introduction


Contact Us

facebook, twitter


Major Issues

Indigenous

Unions

Health

Housing

Climate Change

Peace

Solidarity/Other


State by State

NSW, Qld, SA, Vic, WA


What's On

Topical


Resources

AMR

Links


Shop@CPA

Books, T-shirts, CDs/DVDs, Badges, Misc


 

Issue #1540      21 March 2012

ANF campaign improves nurse/midwife patient ratios

Following a nine-month campaign Victorian nurses and midwives have stopped the Baillieu government replacing nurses with health assistants, saved the state’s unique nurse/midwife patient ratios, achieved some improvements to ratios and secured increased money between 14 and 21 percent.

Thousands of public sector nurses and midwives last week voted to accept a new agreement with the Baillieu government at a statewide meeting at Festival Hall in West Melbourne.

The agreement was reached at midnight through negotiations in Fair Work Australia with the assistance of Commissioner Gooley. The four-year agreement will expire on March 31, 2016.

Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) (Victorian Branch) secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: “This is a bitter sweet victory for nurses and midwives after an unprecedented industrial marathon with the Baillieu government to protect patient care and secure a fair pay rise.

“Health assistants will not replace nurses as part of the ratios and hospitals will not be introducing unlimited four-hour shifts or split shifts,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

“Patients admitted to rehabilitation wards will now benefit from an improved nurse patient ratio from 1 to 7 on the evening shift to 1 to 5 in recognition of the enormity of nurses’ workloads in this speciality,” she said.

“The ANF has also secured annual funding to work towards a 1 to 3 ratio in day oncology units,” she said.

The significant pay rises of between 14 and 21 per cent include an annual percentage increase as well as the introduction of a substantial professional development allowance.

“For the first time nurses and midwives have secured a new annual allowance to assist with the recent changes to their annual re-registration professional development obligations with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. The first allowance to be paid to all nurses and midwives on the first pay period on or after March 31 will be $1,000 and then $900 in subsequent years,” she said.

Some examples of what nurses and midwives will earn over the life of the four-year agreement are:

  • A full time enrolled nurse pay point 4 (three years experience) gained an increase of 18.54%. The first increase under the Agreement is equivalent to 4.71%.
  • A full time graduate nurse gained an increase of 17.95%. The first increase under the Agreement is equivalent to 4.55%.
  • A full time Grade 2, Year 8, registered nurse gained an increase of 16.38%. The first increase under the Agreement is equivalent to 4.12%.
  • A full time Associate Nurse Unit Manager, Year 1, will gain an increase of 15.64%. The first increase under the Agreement is equivalent to 3.92%.
  • A full time Nurse Unit Manager, Year 1will gain an increase of 14.76%. The first increase under the Agreement is equivalent to 3.71%.

Night duty penalty rates have been simplified by having only one single rate and the rate will double to $50.40 with further increases during the life of the four-year agreement.

“The ANF has also negotiated a new career structure for enrolled nurses recognising the significant changes in enrolled nurse education and their broader medication administration scope of practice introduced over the last four years,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

“An important simplification for the hospital payroll and HR is the merging of entitlements and enrolled nurses will now have the same entitlements as registered nurses which will include an additional week of annual leave as well as access to exam leave for many nurses,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

In a vital win the agreement includes Victoria’s 38 stand-alone community health centres, the Queen Elizabeth Centre, Tweddle Child and Family Health Service, Jacaranda Village in Red Cliffs, Darlingford Upper Goulburn Nursing Home in Eildon, Lyndoch Living in Warrnambool, Mallacoota Health and Support Services and Indigo North Health in Rutherglen and Chiltern. The Baillieu government tried to exclude all of these services from the agreement for the first time.

Productivity offsets include a revised clause 43 which enables employers to staff below ratios in very limited circumstances based on consideration of the consequences of strict criteria including patient acuity, nurses’ satisfaction and nursing sensitive outcomes such as falls, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, decubitus ulcers, thrombosis, sepsis and medication errors.

Hospitals can now use a skill mix of 20 percent enrolled nurses in medical and surgical wards which is an increase from 15 per cent in the 2007 agreement. The remaining nurses are registered nurses.

“It has been important to know that nurses and midwives were not alone in their fight to protect patient care on their own. Thank you to the hundreds of thousands of people who called or emailed the ANF, posted supportive messages via our Facebook page and Twitter, wrote letters to the newspapers, called talkback radio, signed our petition, attended a rally or stoppage and generously donated to the hardship fund and opened their doors when we door knocked in Bentleigh,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

“This victory is bittersweet because it will take a long, long time before the Baillieu government earns back the respect of nurses and midwives. It should not take nine months to convince a State government that its job is to protect patient care and improve patient care.

“The Baillieu government was naïve and ill advised when it embarked on a campaign to end mandated minimum nurse/midwife ratios. It was naïve and ill advised when it was told flexibility was needed to meet patient peaks and troughs which of course are unpredictable. It was naïve and ill advised when it was told it could replace nurses with health assistants and expect the same standard of patient care,” she said.

“Since October more than 2,000 nurses and midwives have joined the ANF union and I have seen the birth of more than 1,000 activists who are very keen that this government is only in power for one term,” she said.

“The Baillieu government has politicised a new generation of nurses and ensured that there will be red t-shirt clad nurses and midwives at every polling booth on November 29, 2014 reminding voters that this government wanted to substitute nurses with a three-year degree with health assistants who had three months training,” she said.

Campaign statistics

  • 9 months since negotiations started
  • 128 days since conciliation in Fair Work Australia started
  • 8 statewide meetings
  • 14 days of industrial action involving bed closures
  • 700 hospital beds closed during the peak of the nurses’ industrial action in November
  • 1,516 hospital beds closed by the Baillieu government (between 23 December 2011 and 25 January 2012)
  • 3,452 nurses, midwives and mental health nurses signed resignation authorities
  • 35 community rallies
  • 10,000 protesters at the march to save nurse/midwife ratios from Bourke Street to Spring Street (Thursday 24 November 2011)
  • 1 international protest in New Dehli, India
  • 100 hospital meetings to discuss resignations
  • 15 hospitals involved in rolling stoppages over 14 days
    (24 February and 7 March 2012)
  • 2,000 nurses and midwives involved in stoppages each day during the industrial action
  • 110,000 signatures on the petition to Premier Baillieu to save, improve and legislate nurse/midwife ratios
  • 29,500 people signed the change.org online petition to Premier Baillieu www.tiny.cc/online_petition
  • 19,000 homes in the Bentleigh electorate doorknocked
  • 5 ANF television commercials
  • 3 ANF radio commercials
  • 70,000 Respect Our Work t-shirts sold
  • 2,500 new ANF (Victorian Branch) members since November 2011
  • 1,000 new nurse and midwife activists  

Next article – Poem – Sydney Harbour – Early January Morning

Back to index page

Go to What's On Go to Shop at CPA Go to Australian Marxist Review Go to Join the CPA Go to Subscribe to the Guardian Go to the CPA Maritime Branch website Go to the Resources section of our web site Go to the PDF of the Hot Earth booklet go to the World Federation of Trade Unions web site go to the Solidnet  web site Go to Find out more about the CPA