Risk to penalty rates for aged care nurses

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The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has joined the chorus of criticism over the hefty pay increases handed out to federal politicians from last weekend – the very same weekend thousands of workers across three different sectors had their Sunday penalty rates cut. The ANMF is concerned that those penalties cuts are just the tip of the iceberg and that nursing members could be next, particularly those working in aged care.

MPs and Senators are pocketing an extra 2% in their pay packets, as well as securing cuts to marginal tax rates, which have been lowered to 47%. This means the Prime Minister’s pay rises from $517,504 to $527,852. The median salary in Australia now stands at around $80,000.

“Our members, particularly those working in the lowly-paid aged care sector, find this pretty hard to stomach”, said ANMF Acting Federal Secretary Annie Butler [right].

“As a result of HECS fees rising, nursing students will pay thousands more for their university degrees, aged care nurses still work with no mandated staffing ratios and AINs are overworked and underpaid, thanks to the Government’s failure to restore any of the $1.2 billion in Budget cuts.

Butler said the ANMF was encouraged by the ALP Opposition’s recent pledge that they would restore penalty rates if elected, as nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing (AIN) were still at risk if cuts to Sunday penalty rates were applied across health and aged care.

She pointed to a report by the Australia Institute which shows that the health sector is the second highest employer of weekend workers behind retail and hospitality, with a warning that if penalty rate cuts are extended “the economic impact on Australian workers will be severe”.

“Any move to expand cuts to penalty rates for health and aged care would be economically devastating, with analysis conducted by the ANMF showing that nurses, midwives and AINs now rely on penalty rates for 20% of their income.

“If their Sunday penalty rates are reduced to Saturday rates, it would result in a pay cut of over $1900 a year.

“Almost 90% of ANMF members have made it clear they will walk away from nursing and midwifery if they were to lose their penalty rates.

“Australia’s political leaders must realise this is a risk they cannot afford to take, which is why the ANMF welcomes any commitment to not only reverse the decision to restore penalty rates but to protect them under law.”

Previously on Nurse Uncut: