Thousands of nurses working at for-profit aged care facilities are demanding that employers improve their wages and career opportunities, especially after the Federal Government’s recent decision to make $1.2 billion available from 2013 for better wages, working conditions, career and training opportunities.
The owners of the 157 for-profit facilities are members of the Aged Care Association – NSW (ACAA-NSW) and their current enterprise agreement expires on 30 June, 2012.
Their nurses are seeking a new agreement, which includes a six percent annual pay rise and a range of improvements to workloads management, leave arrangements and the treatment of qualifications and experience.
Thirty-eight of the facilities are in regional NSW and employ more than 1000 nurses. The other 119 facilities are spread across Sydney and the central coast and employ more than 3000 nurses.
NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA) acting secretary Judith Kiejda said pay and conditions in the aged care sector continue to lag behind the hospital sector.
“All aged care employers have to do their bit to help achieve these better outcomes or the sector will continue to be plagued by staffing pressures and questions about the standard of care. Aged care cannot be allowed to become a sub-standard low-wage industry.
“The situation has become particularly serious for the NSW for-profit sector, which is now falling behind the charitable aged care sector in terms of pay. That is clearly not a desirable outcome. Average hourly pay rates at the moment are:
Public hospitals Charitable For-profit AC
Experienced registered nurse $37.47 $33.54 $32.06
Experienced enrolled nurse $26.14 $24.66 $23.23
Experienced assistant in nursing $21.04 $19.23 $18.94
“At those rates, an assistant in nursing caring for the frail aged is currently paid less than many shop assistants. For example, a Coles retail assistant earns $19.05 an hour. The nurses know that now is the time to act to fix this pay injustice. So does the Federal Government and, hopefully, so do these for-profit employers.”
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Image credit: Employee of the Month via google images and aged care image via NSWNA