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Sector nurses to miss out on ‘thank you’ bonus

Nurses working in the private and aged care sectors will not qualify for NSW and Victoria's ‘thank you’ bonuses, state premiers have clarified.

Last week, NSW and Victoria announced it would offer public healthcare workers $3,000 in bonus payments in recognition of their work during the pandemic.

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet said workers employed by private healthcare providers, including aged care staff, will not be eligible to receive the payment.

“This is the New South Wales government taking the lead and I call on the private sector to follow our lead and provide that payment to their nurses and midwives as well,” Perrottet said.

Earlier this year, aged care workers received a payment of up to $800 for their work during COVID-19.

A survey of 1,000 aged care workers conducted by the United Workers Union (UWU) in March indicated that 97% had not seen any money.

The most recent bonus, announced by the NSW government earlier last week, is part of the state's $4.5 billion dollar health package in the upcoming budget.

NSWNMA acting general secretary Shaye Candish said the payment was a distraction from chronic workforce issues.

“It beggars’ belief how little thought has gone into this announcement given the vast efforts of all healthcare workers who sacrificed themselves to keep NSW communities safe,” Candish said.

“We’re told the one-off payment will be taxed, have superannuation taken out, and only apply pro rata for casuals or part-time staff averaged out over the last financial year.

“We’re calling on the NSW Premier to take another look at this pre-budget announcement, ensure all healthcare workers are recognised for their tremendous resilience and valued equitably across the board.”

Perrottet also announced on Monday an expansion of the state’s health workforce with an additional 10,000 staff over the next four years.

This figure has been ‘double counted’ from previous government announcements, according to NSWNMA assistant general secretary Michael Whaites.

“We have been told that figure does include the NSW Ambulance and palliative care announcements, as well as at least 1,600 nurses and midwives yet to be recruited from the 5,000 nurses and midwives promised back in 2019,” Whaites said.

“We still have no detail on how many new nurses and midwives are within this announcement, where they will be allocated, or when they will be recruited.”

Andrews: pay your own way

Victorian premier Dan Andrews has called on private hospital operators and aged care providers to pay out their staff after the sector hit out at his decision to exclude private nurses from the state's $3,000 bonus.

Yesterday, Andrews told reporters that some private providers had done "particularly well" over the past two years.

“We don’t do their enterprise bargaining so we’re not doing the paying of their wages,” he said.

“They [private hospitals] should spend a little bit more time rewarding their staff appropriately rather than calling upon others to do it.

“They might want to get on with … nurse-to-patient ratios as well while they’re at it."

Nurses in WA have also called on their state government to match NSW and Victoria’s wage increases and loyalty bonuses.

According to the West Australian, the Australian Nursing Federation Industrial Union of Workers Perth has written to the state’s health minister asking for a capped rise of “at least” 2.5 per cent.

The WA government has yet to indicate whether it has considered the offer.

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