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30 March 2020
Two weeks ago, on March 16, your union sought urgent consideration of an interim enterprise bargaining agreement for nurses and midwives across the public sector.
In the face of protracted negotiations, and with the COVID-19 pandemic appearing on our shores like a tsunami, we believe that the Marshall Government must act immediately to resolve the wages and working conditions of nurses and midwives. You, our members, deserve certainty as you act as the frontline in providing care and protection for the people of South Australia in unprecedented times.
The proposal for an interim agreement that we outlined, on a without prejudice basis, included:
- Wages - an interim wage increase of 2.5% operative from 1 October 2019, 12 months after your last wage increase in 2018. Further 2.5% pay increases per year would be incorporated into a finalised two-year agreement to be in place by January 2021.
- Night duty - allowing nurses and midwives, at ward or unit level, to make decisions about the length of night duty. If they elect to move to a 9.5 hour night shift then an increase in night duty penalty rates of 1.5% will apply in that area. In implementing any change to night duty, members must have their contracted hours protected and paid into the future.
- Staffing levels - implementation of the staffing allocation system proposed by ANMF (SA Branch) to make staffing in all wards/units more easily understood and transparent. Staffing levels will be maintained at the existing 'Hours per Patient Day' that are currently in place for the life of the agreement unless there are significant changes in the ward or unit warranting review.
- Incentives for country workers - implementing changes to the attraction allowance aimed at encouraging nurses and midwives to take up work in rural and remote settings.
- Violence and fatigue - ensuring that all health networks are required to implement fully and quickly the policies and procedures adopted by the Department of Health and Wellbeing that address violence and challenging behaviours, and fatigue.
- Redundancies - any nurse or midwife made redundant, after exhaustive processes to redeploy and retrain them and where a voluntary separation package (VSP) had been rejected, would receive payment of an amount not less than would be made under a VSP.
We sought urgent consideration of this proposed interim agreement by the SA Government. Two weeks later we are yet to receive any formal advice as to their position. We continue to press for urgent action that will resolve your bargaining claims and allow rapid processing of the interim measures.
If accepted, this position would allow the ANMF (SA Branch) to continue with discussions during the remainder of the year that would see the remaining, less pressing matters resolved and a further two-year agreement put to you via ballot.
Further information will be provided as soon as a response from the Government is received. Should the Government make a new offer that aligns with the (interim) position above, it will of course be put forward to you for consideration and determination.
As is always the case, the decisions are ultimately for you to make.
Given that workplace meetings are not possible in the present climate, it is our intention to put any such proposals to members through an online poll.
Together we will reach a positive outcome.
Look after yourselves and each other and, most importantly, stay safe.