Why nurses and midwives need to stop business from gaming the system

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Health Researcher Ben from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association runs us through why current bargaining laws need a real overhaul, to ensure nurse and midwives get their fair share. 

Under the current enterprise bargaining rules, nurses and midwives in the private health sector are being hamstrung in their ability to advocate for better workplace conditions and safe patient care. Business is gaming the system, and both staff and patients are suffering. It’s why it’s critical that the rules are changed around bargaining. The ACTU’s Change the Rules Campaign is pursuing changes that puts unions on a level playing field with businesses when it comes to deliver workers’ pay and conditions.

While many employers follow the rules and bargain in good faith, others have chosen to stall and avoid providing their staff with the pay and conditions that they deserve. The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association’s (NSNWMA) recent negotiations with Allity Aged Care shows how the system is broken and needs to be fixed.

What unfair bargaining looks like for nurses and midwives?

Allity Aged Care is a private Aged Care company owned by private equity. They employ approximately 1,410 workers in New South Wales. Allity has been known for questionable business structures, which have been featured in reports by ANMF and CICTAR.

The following details the bargaining process between the NSWNMA and Allity, and highlights just how Allity gamed the system to avoid providing the staff with better pay and condition.

Timeline of events with the NSWNMA and Allity Aged Care Negotiations

The NSWNMA has negotiated over 970 enterprise agreements over the past 20 years, including 860 in just the last 10. While most employers commence negotiations when contacted by the NSWNMA, this example with Allity highlights the need for the rules to be fixed to ensure fairness in bargaining. The tightening up of rules to prevent employers delaying meaningful negotiations is an important aspect of the Change the Rules campaign, and will benefit not just nurses and midwives.  but workers throughout Australia.

If you want to check out other aspects of the ACTU’s Change the Rules Campaign, clink here.

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