The Guardian April 30, 2003


NSW private hospitals start to match public sector pay rates

Healthscope, which operates four private hospitals in NSW, has agreed to 
a NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA) claim for a 15 percent pay rise for 
private hospital nurses this year so that their wages keep pace with 
public-sector nurses wage rises.

This pay offer from Healthscope follows last December's interim decision by 
the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to grant public sector nurses a six 
percent pay rise from January 2003.

This interim rise, when combined with the four per cent January pay rise 
and five per cent July pay rise negotiated between the NSWNA and State 
Government, means public sector nurses in NSWNA are receiving a 15 percent 
(compounded) pay rise this year.

NSWNA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said Healthscope was the first 
private hospital employer in NSW to agree to wages parity with the public 
sector after the Commission's interim decision.

Mayne Health has now also agreed to give its NSW nurses a 15 percent pay 
rise this year.

Healthscope, which operates the Dubbo Private Hospital, Sydney Clinic at 
Waverley, Mosman Private Hospital and Sydney South West Private Hospital at 
Liverpool and employs more than 150 nurses, has agreed to the following pay 
increases for its nursing staff:

* four per cent from March 2003;
* six per cent from May 2003; and
* five per cent from August 2003.

This will provide a standard ward nurse  a Registered Nurse with at least 
eight years' experience  with a pay rise of around $140.00 per week.

Healthscope has also agreed to phase in parity with the public sector 
across a range of other entitlements such as on-call and in-charge-of-shift 
allowances. NSWNA members at Healthscope facilities are now considering and 
voting on the offer.

"Private hospitals in NSW are not exempt from the nurse shortage and, like 
the public sector, they also have an obligation to help restore nursing as 
an attractive career option through improved wages and conditions", said Mr 
Holmes.

He said if private hospitals let nurses' wages and conditions fall behind 
the public sector they risk losing large numbers of nurses to the public 
sector, which is actively recruiting to fill the thousands of nursing 
vacancies in NSW public hospitals.

Mr Holmes said the NSWNA is still negotiating with other private hospital 
operators for wages parity with the public sector and is hopeful of 
positive outcomes with many of them in the near future.

"We are also stepping up our campaign in the aged care sector  the A Fair 
Share for Aged Care campaign  for wages parity with the public hospital 
sector. We cannot afford to have two classes of nurses when it comes to 
wages.

Nursing work is nursing work and nurses are entitled to receive equal pay 
across all the health care and aged care sectors.

"It is not only a question of wage justice. Getting the private hospital 
and aged care sectors to match the improved pay and conditions in the 
public sector is the only way we can genuinely overcome the serious nurse 
shortage we currently face", Mr Holmes said.

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