800 RDNS nurses in Victoria begin industrial action over pay.
Community care nurses at Australia’s largest provider of in-home care have commenced industrial action in an on-going dispute over pay and conditions.
The protected action by the 800 nurses of the RDNS (Royal District Nursing Service) follows a breakdown in talks between RDNS management and the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF).
The RDNS nurses work from more than 20 centres and provide care to some 35,000 clients across Melbourne and parts of regional Victoria each year.
ANF Victorian secretary Pip Carew said existing clients and all urgent clients would be unaffected by the action, which includes bans on paperwork and non-critical client assessments.
However hospitals may be unable to discharge patients needing community nursing care in their homes as part of their recovery, Carew said in a statement on Sunday.
The union said it had been negotiating for 11 months over a new enterprise agreement. It said it wants pay parity with public sector hospital nurses and midwives and better staffing arrangements.
"(Staff are) being asked to accept an offer that significantly reduces their entitlements and leaves them potentially earning up to $10,000 less than their public sector counterparts," Carew said.
"They're very concerned if their conditions are reduced, if their workloads are not addressed and if they're paid significantly less than hospital nurses, then RDNS will very quickly have a serious nurse shortage of its own making."
The ANF also claims RDNS management is seeking to reduce current entitlements such as sick and carer's leave.
The nurses are seeking a 2.5 per cent annual wage rise over four years, plus $1000 professional development allowance in the first year, then $900 per year.
RDNS has offered a 2.5 per cent annual wage rise, but annual allowances worth up to $700 for full-time nurses, subject to conditions, the union said.
Stephen Muggleton, RDNS chief executive, said it was disappointing that the ANF has taken the action at a time when RDNS had made an offer that matched the public sector (2.5 per cent).
“We’re not far away from the union’s demands but it’s got to be said we’re working through these issues in extremely challenging economic times, not only for RDNS, but also for the state and federal governments and the private and public sectors across Australia,” Muggleton said. “Our main concern is for our clients. I am confident that our clients will not be affected directly because at this stage I understand that the union’s intention is to cause administrative disruption to hurt RDNS financially.
“Our nurses do an outstanding job 365 days a year and I am confident that they understand the wider environment and I am also confident that these issues will be resolved as we continue to negotiate in good faith with the union.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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