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Issue #1772      April 5, 2017

Aged care campaign

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) campaign for safer staffing levels, better resident care and wage increases began across Victorian at the end of March at nursing homes owned by BlueCross and Aged Care Services Australia Group (ACSAG).

ANMF is visiting every BlueCross and ACSAG nursing home during March and April to discuss the log of claims for better staffing levels, wages and conditions.

The enterprise agreements for both employers expire on May 31, 2017.

Both nursing home groups, along with several other larger providers, set the wages benchmark for private-for-profit aged care in Victoria. ANMF and its members want BlueCross and ACSAG to continue to set the standard.

ANMF is seeking to negotiate better wages for registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers employed in about 17 BlueCross facilities which were historically classified as “low care” compared to the seven BlueCross facilities regarded as “high care”.

These employees are paid lower rates because the aged care facility they work in was once a low-care “hostel” and only had “low-care” residents. Ageing in place hostels and low-care-only facilities no longer exist, but under enterprise agreements employers can legally continue to pay the low-care rates. BlueCross started to address this issue in the last agreement. This time ANMF will be asking them to take a bigger step towards eliminating the gap between low-care and high-care pay rates.

ANMF is also seeking improved skill mix and ratios to ensure our members can provide safe, quality resident care.

Specific personal care worker claims include career structure improvements, exam leave and a fifth week of annual leave for Monday to Friday shift workers.

The union says that for this bargaining round members face a challenging environment to negotiate fair wages and safer staffing, including:

  • the federal government’s $1.6 billion aged care funding cuts and changes to the aged care funding instrument
  • national private sector wage outcomes for all industries of around two percent per year
  • the annual inflation rate is 1.5 percent.

However, it is important to remember many aged care providers will still make reasonable profits per bed – for some it is up to $13,000 per bed before tax and depreciation.

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