Nurses in Sydney’s west have this week joined to demand employer Allity Aged Care put forward an updated enterprise agreement that meets their expectations.
The provider’s aged care nurses met in their own time outside Allity’s Beechwood Aged Care facility to prompt the company to address staffing concerns and offer a wage increase above that put forward previously. The meet-up follows other events on the Central and South Coast last week and at the provider’s Redleaf Manor Aged Care facility in Concord the previous day.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) general secretary, Brett Holmes, said nurses have told the union they feel unappreciated and undervalued.
Allity put forward two offers containing pay increases but they were rejected by union members in a vote.
The initial pay offer in October last year was for 1.8 per cent. It was followed by an offer of 2.35 per cent about six months later.
Allity spokesperson Glen Hurley said the latest figure was in excess of the inflation rate and double the government funding increase to the sector. Hurley added that the provider put that wage increase into effect for nurses from 1 July as a show of good faith to employees, despite not yet reaching agreement with the union.
Almost 60 per cent of nurses voted to turn down the second offer.
NSWNMA said this occurred despite efforts by the provider to sway the vote.
Following the vote, the union said staff were told that homes would close and they would lose their jobs if they chose to turn down the offer, and that nurses were taken into voting booths at the start of their shifts where a manager stood and watched them vote via computer.
Allity rejected these claims. Hurley said the team has asked the union for evidence and details of the allegations but has not yet received them.
The union also alleged that company executives turned up at workplaces when NSWNMA officials visited to speak to members and that they would sit down in lunch rooms within earshot of discussions between staff and union representatives.
But Hurley said the presence of other Allity employees was in response to pressure union representatives placed on staff.
“During the voting period, the union attended Allity homes each day from 6am to late in the evening,” he said, adding the team received multiple complaints about union intervention from employees. Some staff members felt unable to have their breaks in peace, he said.
“Some of the complaints Allity has received about the union include taking employee names, taking down their vote choice and employees’ union membership status on an attendance sheet left out on tables for others to see.”
Hurley said Allity assured anonymity throughout the enterprise agreement process, including through the use of Elections Australia to run the voting process. He added that on top of the provision of voting booths in private spaces for employees to use, staff were told voting could be done outside of work via their own mobile or computer device.
Allity said negotiations around conditions and wages, and when they take effect, are continuing.
Nurses are calling for a pay increase of 3 per cent per year, along with improved staffing levels.Do you have an idea for a story?
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