Aged care nurses' win 15% pay rise
Nurses working in Victoria's private nursing homes have won a 15 percent pay rise, to be paid in three lots of five per cent over a two-year period. The increase came after the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) made an application to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission when it became clear the enterprise bargaining process had failed. There has never been an enterprise agreement in the private nursing home sector. The ANF began a nation-wide campaign in this sector in 1995 to gain award coverage but was unsuccessful. The union then began the process again in Victoria but only a couple of employers were prepared to come to the table. As a result the Commission concluded that the parties would never reach agreement. It terminated the bargaining period and used provisions in the Workplace Relations Act which allow for people on paid rates awards to have a special award made for them in the event they can't reach agreement through enterprise bargaining. Acting ANF Branch Secretary, Hannah Sellers, said that the decision took into account "the difficulties of attracting and retaining sufficient nurses in the residential aged care sector". Ms Sellers said that the increase would help with the recruitment and retention of nurses in more than 350 private nursing homes in the State. The Commission did not grant the ANF's claim for a nurse-to-patient ratio, saying this was a matter of public health policy that should be determined by government. The ANF has called on the Brack Government to immediately implement this aspect in residential nursing homes to ensure the continued quality of care. The previous Kennett Government removed nurse-to-patient ratio requirements. The ratios were one registered nurse per 10 patients on day and evening shifts, and a one-to-15 ratio on the night shift. It also required the appointment of a director of nursing in each nursing home. After the Kennett Government scrapped the ratios the ANF succeeded in having them implemented into their federal award, but under the award stripping provisions of the Workplace Relations Act, they are not included in the 20 "allowable" award matters. "We call on [Health] Minister Pike to heed the calls of Victorian nurses", said Ms Sellers, "and ensure that Victorian nursing home residents receive quality care from qualified nurses."