Staff strikes are now in place across half of Bupa’s 26 Victorian nursing homes, as aged care workers campaign for safer staffing levels and increased pay.
Nurses and carers began striking for the duration of their shifts on Tuesday, and are expected to continue today.
The move comes after a 400-strong rally last week outside Bupa’s Melbourne headquarters, making it the most serious industrial action ever seen in Victoria’s private aged care sector.
Staff from Bupa nursing homes in Ballarat, Caulfield, Coburg, Clayton, Donvale, Eastwood, Greensborough, Mildura, Portland, Sunshine, Templestowe, Thomastown and Wooden are all participating in the strike.
Bupa management was given five days’ notice to arrange for the care of elderly residents.
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Foundation (Victorian Branch) secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said the organisation had been trying to negotiate a new enterprise agreement since January last year.
“Aged care nurses and carers striking for the very first time is evidence something is deeply wrong with the aged care system and the way employers choose to roster staff,” Fitzpatrick said.
“Residents have increasingly complex nursing needs, but there are fewer nurses; safe staffing is not supported by the aged care law, the aged care assessment audits, the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner or workplace laws.
“It gives us no confidence that Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt has failed to include any workforce representatives on his new aged care workforce taskforce.
“Who will listen to residents, their families and their nurses and carers? Who will stand up, regardless of the industry lobbying or the politics, and say the answer is mandated safe nurse/carer to resident ratios?”
While the Aged Care Act requires nursing homes to “maintain an adequate number of appropriately skilled staff to ensure the care needs of care recipients are met”, the ANMF maintains that “adequate” is not defined in any legislation and is therefore not enforceable.
There is concern that despite under-staffing, Bupa recently made 23 senior clinical nurses redundant.
Nurses and carers are now striking indefinitely to push for increased staffing levels and a commitment to fill positions when staff take leave.Do you have an idea for a story?
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