Healthscope Agreement Delivers Better Pay for Nurses!

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Bargaining by members at Healthscope private hospitals has won good pay rises, setting a benchmark for the private hospital sector.

Members at Healthscope private hospitals are celebrating a 3.85% pay rise in 2011 and 2012 as part of their renewed two-year agreement, bringing pay rates in line with the NSW Public Health System over the course of the agreement. It sets a benchmark for the private hospital sector.

NSWNA Nepean private hospital branch


NSWNA assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda said they have set a standard for other employers in the public sector to follow suit.  The agreement covers more than 2,000 nurses at 12 facilities in NSW and is the fourth agreement negotiated with the employer. In February, approximately 80% of staff who voted, voted ‘yes’ to the new agreement.

In addition to a good pay rise, the new agreement also includes some extra benefits, which have been welcomed by staff. These include three days of paid professional development leave, as well as five days of trade union training leave and more options during annual shutdown periods.

Did members input play a role?

YES! These wins would not have been achieved without members and Branches taking a proactive approach to bargaining. Karen Noble, an RN in maternity at Newcastle Private hospital and Branch President, was instrumental in getting the shutdown clause reworded so that it allows staff a choice of whether or not they work during this period.

“The big win is the fact that theatre nurses can work in another part of the hospital or an adjacent healthscope private hospital or facility if they want to, so they don’t have to take annual leave during the shutdown. It supports nurses because it’s their choice – they are not forced into working or being on call.”

Karen says it’s important that individual Branches take a proactive approach in negotiating their terms and conditions.

“You know your own situation, especially in private hospitals. The good thing about being proactive is you can have positive outcomes for workers and for management,” she said.

Why is having a branch important?

Shelley Laffin, an RN in recovery and anaesthetics at Nepean Private Hospital, said that forming a Branch resulted in many members, including herself, changing their minds about the agreement and realising it was a good one worth voting ‘yes’ to.

“The agreement is full of legalese and is a huge document. Having a Branch has been really important in that we have had access to a Union rep who’s come out and explained it all to us.”

Maintaining a Branch means members who take on an official position need time to develop their skills as local representatives of the NSWNA. This is why paid trade union training leave is important.

Lyne Dine, NSWNA Councillor and RN at Campbelltown Private hospital said previously, this training was done through unpaid leave.

Lyne and a colleague set up the Branch soon after the hospital opened in April 2007.

“A Branch helps in making staff aware of their rights and entitlements, and also their responsibilities. Paid trade union leave will be important in encouraging members to be active in their Branch executive.”

Do you work in a private hospital? Do you have a branch? If so, how has it benefitted you? Tell us in the comments section below!

Branch Officials and Activist Training (BOAT)
Members are encouraged to take part in the Association’s private hospitals Branch Officials and Activist Training (BOAT) courses. The next course takes place today and tomorrow (16 and 17 March) at the NSWNA office at 50 O’Dea Avenue, Waterloo.
Further sessions are also being planned for later in the year at Newcastle and Wollongong.
For more information, call 1300 357 962 1300 357 962 or 8595 1234 (metro) or email gensec@nswnurses.asn.au

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