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					                                                                                                                                                      WHAT’S program  ON
                                                                                                                                                      nswna education
                                                                                                                                                       sw
                                                                                                                                                      THIS MONTH
Nurses turn against                                                                                                                                   s Managing aggression in the
the Terminator                                                                                                                                           workplace
                                                                                                                                                         7 June, Orange – 1 day
                                                                                                                                                         Skills and strategies to manage
                                                                                                                                                         unacceptable workplace
                                                               Stop Ar          ACTION                                                                   behaviour.
                                                                        n o l d ’s A ALERT                                                               Members $85.00
                                                               o n Wo r              tta
                                                                        king Pe ck
                                                                                                                                                         Non-members $226.00
                                                                                                                                                         Branch officials $74.00
                                                                                    ople                                                              s Basic foot care for RNs and ENs
                                                                                                                 Lead th
                                                                                                                          e Fight                        (VETAB accredited course)
                                                                                                                  Join th        !
                                                                                                                  e mas
                                                                                                            rally ag sive                                14-15 June, Westmead – 2 days
                                                                                                         Schwarz ainst
                                                                                                       corpora enegger’s                                 Equips nurses with the
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                                                                         nts, cons            hers and
                                                                                  umers, un            firefighter ty, teacher job                ,
                                                                                             ion mem               s will lead          security,        Members $203.00
                                                      We d n e s                                      bers and
                                                                                                                 working
                                                                                                                                the rally
                                                                                                                            families      along
                                                                 d                a y, M a y                                        .                    Non-members $350.00
                                                                                        25, 20                                                           Branch officials $175.00
                                                               Pershing
                                                                         Rally 4:0
                                                                                   0 pm         05
                                                          530 Sou         Square,                                                                     s Professional education day
                                                                  th Olive         Los Ange
                                                                           S                les
                                                                                       treet / W
                                                    For m                                       e        st Fifth S
                                                          o re        in fo rm                                          treet                            22 June, Queanbeyan – 1 day
                                       CNA: A                                     a ti o n ,
                                                          VOICE FO                             c a ll 8
                                                                                                        1 8 -6                                           Root cause analysis, disciplinary
                                      www.caln
                                                                       R NURSES                                  3 7 -7 1
                                                                                                                            15
                                                                                         ~ A VISIO
                                              urses.org


                                                                                                          N FOR HE                                       proceedings, procedural fairness
                                                                                                                          ALTHCARE



E
        verywhere Arnold Schwarzenegger                                                                                                                  and performance management.
        goes these days, he’s dogged by                    ‘We                                                                       040805


                                                                                                                                                         Free
        the irate California nurses union.
        Nurses turn up to protest at every
                                                           take extreme                                                                               s Legal and professional issues for
                                                                                                                                                         nurses
corporate fundraiser held for the actor-                   credit for his poll                                                                           30 June, Coffs Harbour – 1/2 day
turned-governor of the biggest state in
the USA.                                                   numbers dropping like                                                                         Potential liability,
                                                                                                                                                         documentation, writing
     The California Nurses Association
(CNA) says Schwarzenegger is doing the
                                                           a rock.’                                                                                      statements. Participants will
                                                                                                                                                         gain increased understanding
bidding of powerful corporate donors                            The union can take some of the                                                           of the Nurses and Midwives Act
to his campaign fund, including private                    responsibility for the governor’s recent                                                      1991 and the role of disciplinary
hospital chains, insurance companies and                   job approval rating sinking to 43%. It                                                        tribunals including Nurses and
pharmaceutical companies.                                  didn’t help when he called nurses ‘a                                                          Midwives Board.
     According to the CNA, corporate                       special interest group’ and boasted that he                                                   Members $39.50
interests have donated tens of millions                    ‘kicked their butts’.                                                                         Non-members $85.00
of dollars to Schwarzenegger’s campaign                         ‘We take extreme credit for his poll                                                     Branch officials $28.00
fund. In return he has sought to                           numbers dropping like a rock,’ CNA’s
overthrow the State’s nurse-to-patient safe                executive director Rose Ann DeMoro said.                                                                 For registration and more
staffing ratios, and tried to abolish the                        In January the governor tried to dissolve                                                           information:
Board of Registered Nursing.                               the Board of Registered Nursing, which CNA                                                               go to www.nswnurses.
     The nurses’ rebellion against the                     officials believe was an act of retaliation.                                                              asn.au or ring Carolyn
governor started six months ago when                            The board is the equivalent of                                                                      Kulling on 1300 367 962
Schwarzenegger issued a stop on a 1999                     the NSW Nurses Registration Board.
law that established a one-to-five nurse-                   Schwarzenegger proposed saving money
to-patient ratio in California.                            by handing the board’s job to the                                                          p Correction
     The law was scheduled to go into                      Department of Consumer Affairs, under                                                         The May issue of The Lamp featured
effect in January 2005, but the governor                   the group that investigates complaints                                                        the Statement of Financial Position of
issued an emergency order to block it and                  against the vehicle industry!                                                                 the NSWNA. The right hand column
subsequently took the matter to court.                          Schwarzenegger did not even                                                              in part 2 of the table should have
     The nurses won the first round in                      know that the members of the Board of                                                         read 2003 not 2005. The Auditor’s
March, when the state Superior Court                       Registered Nursing receive no monetary                                                        certificate should have been dated
upheld the legislation. Schwarzenegger is                  compensation. He was forced to back off                                                       5 April 2005 not 2004.
appealing the decision.                                    from that idea following a public outcry. n
                                                                                                                                                                           THE LAMP JUNE 2005 11
s    C E V S     N B     I
     N O W E R I S T O R YE F




Spirited campaign delivers 14%
pay rise and top conditions
g On top of a very good pay rise, we have also
won excellent conditions and entitlements that
will enhance the ability of nurses to balance family                                       Commitment to fund
and work commitments, provide recognition
                                                                                           10-hour night shifts
of nurses’ skills and education and increase
                                                                                           for 60 more facilities
                                                                                           The government has committed to fund
protection against unfair treatment at work.                                               10-hour night shifts at 60 more facilities
                                                                                           from 2006. This condition will help
                                                                                           nurses to better plan their lives around




N
                 urses have won a 14%                                                      shift work.
                 pay rise in the face of
                 total opposition from the
                 Carr State government
                 to any increase of more
                 than 12%.
     The Industrial Relations Commission
has increased the pay nurses will receive
between now and 2008 in a binding
decision issued on 20 May.
     The Commission has fast tracked
the first pay rise so it is immediately
back paid to January 2005, with the
next increase to take place this July as
opposed to January next year.                ‘This wage rise means
     The pay increases will be:
c 3% from 1 January 2005 (back pay
                                             that between 2000
    to be paid)                              and 2007 nurses will
c a further 3% from 1 July 2005
c a further 4% from 1 July 2006              have received a 39.5%
c a further 4% from 1 July 2007.                                 ’
                                             increase in base pay.
     NSWNA General Secretary Brett
Holmes says the pay result, combined         study leave and union delegates’
with the raft of excellent conditions        recognition and training.
won in the new agreement, is a very               ‘This result is very significant when
good outcome for nurses after a hard-        seen in a wider political context where the
fought campaign.
     ‘This is a substantial increase on
                                             federal government is preparing to attack
                                             workers’ award conditions and rights.’
                                                                                                   Midwives
the government’s original offer. This             Brett said the main claim not                    recognised in
wage rise means that between 2000 and
2007 nurses will have received a 39.5%
                                             achieved in this campaign is an increase
                                             to night duty penalty payments, which
                                                                                                   award
increase in base pay.’                                                                             Midwives will be now
                                             the Government and NSW Health
     ‘Some of the improvements in                                                                  specifically recognised
                                             refused to negotiate on.
conditions include a $15 per-week base                                                             in the award.
                                                  ‘The NSWNA will campaign to
pay increase for ENs with medication         achieve a negotiated improvement or
endorsement, pay reviews for CNSs,           running a test case in the Commission at
CNEs and NEs to be done in 2005-06           the end of this wages agreement 2008.
and funding of 10-hour night shifts in            ‘NSW nurses have done well to
60 more hospitals, starting in 2006.         improve the standing of the nursing
There is also a significant increase in       profession with better pay and more
paid maternity leave from 9 to 14            family friendly conditions. We now have
weeks and one week’s paid paternity          defend these gains from being clawed
leave, and the new award will guarantee      back by the Howard government.’n
12 THE LAMP JUNE 2005
                             c 3% from 1 January 2005
WHAT                         c Further 3% from 1 July 2005

WE’VE                        c Further 4% from 1 July 2006
                             c Further 4% from 1 July 2007


WON                          This year’s 3% pay rise is to be
                             back paid to 1 January, giving an                     Review of pay
IN PAY                                                                             rates
                             RN year 8 over $800 in lump sum
                             back pay for the first increase.
                                                                                   There will be a review of
                                                                                   the CNE, NE, CNS and AIN
                                                                                   undergraduate student
                                                                                   classifications. The reviews

More union                               Recognition for                           will enable the NSWNA to


rights, more                             ENs                                       pursue higher pay for these
                                                                                   classifications.
                                         ENs who undertake additional
protection                               education and responsibility
                                         for administering medication
For the first time, we have               receive recognition through
an award clause that                     extra pay.
protects union delegates
and guarantees their right
to spend time on union
business and education
during work time.




                                                         Groundbreaking
                                                         maternity leave
                                                         Paid maternity and adoption leave
                                                         will increase from 9 to 14 weeks and
                                                         one week’s paternity leave will be
                                                         introduced.




                                                                                                     THE LAMP JUNE 2005 13
  s   C E V S     N B     I
      N O W E R I S T O R YE F




HAVING YOUR
SAY ON THE                           Members
CONDITIONS                           agree,
c Branches now need to meet
  to vote
                                     conditions
c The vote is to accept the offer
  on improved conditions             are tops
c The pay increase has already
  been determined in a binding
                                                                            ‘I’M VERY HAPPY
  decision by Industrial                                                    WITH THE RESULTS ’
  Commission.
                                                                            c Robyn Jillings will also enjoy the
  There is no vote on this                                                  extra $15 per week as an endorsed EN
For more information visit the                                              at St Vincent’s Hospital. ‘The training
                                                                            was quite demanding on my time. The
Association website at www.                                                 proposed extra $15 per week goes
nswnurses.asn.au                                                            some way to recognising my extra
                                                                            skills. I’m very happy with the results
                                                                            we achieved. It was a good pay rise and
Your vote is                                                                the expansion of 10-hour night shifts to
important                                                                   extra facilities is also a good idea. You
                                                                            work longer but it means one less shift
Branch secretaries will receive                                             per week.’
by email and post an
information and voting               EXTRA PAY
instructions kit. It will be also
                                     RECOGNISES
posted on the NSWNA website.
                                     OLIVE’S
                                     HARD WORK
All NSWNA branches need
                                     c Olive MacKenzie, EN at RPA
to hold a meeting by close of        Hospital, says she worked hard to
business Thursday, 9 June, to        gain the skills and qualifications
                                     required to administer medication.
endorse the conditions and           ‘ENs deserve to be paid extra
entitlements we have fought so       for this effort. Being recognised
hard for during the campaign.        through extra pay will encourage
                                     other ENs to do the training so they
To gain these conditions and         can be endorsed.’
benefits, members need to vote
‘yes’ to the award – even if there
are individual conditions not
                                                                            CONDITIONS JUST AS
                                                                            IMPORTANT AS PAY RISE
relevant to you. It’s the whole
                                                                            c As a CNS at St Vincent’s Hospital,
package that members will be                                                Sharon Boys hopes the proposed
voting for – ‘no’ to one condition                                          review of her classification next year
means no to all.                                                            will deliver an additional pay rise on
                                                                            top of the 14%. Sharon says nurses
                                                                            feel more respected and valued with
                                                                            the decent pay rise and proposed
                                                                            improved conditions. ‘The conditions
                                                                            are just as important as the pay.’

 14 THE LAMP JUNE 2005
                                                        HELEN AND JULIA GET MORE
                                                        TIME WITH THEIR BABIES

                                                            c With her baby due in early August, the
                                                               proposed additional paid maternity leave
                                                                 comes as a big relief to Helen Saitannis
                                                                   (right), RN at St George Hospital.
                                                                      ‘I feel more peace of mind. I will
                                                                         be able to take extra time off to
                                                                           spend with my baby without
                                                                            worrying about how we are
                                                                              going to pay the mortgage.
                                                                                It’s very important to be
                                                                                  able to spend time with
                                                                                   my baby.’
                                                                                      c With one week
                                                                                     to go before she
                                                                                     commences maternity
                                                                                    leave, the increase in
                                                                                     paid leave is ‘fantastic
                                                                                     news’ to Julia Martin,
                                                                                     RN at St Vincent’s
                                                                                     Hospital. ‘It’s a huge
                                                                                     financial burden when
                                                                                     you have to stop work.
                                                                                    This will make a big
                                                                                   difference to my family.
                                                                                  I’m planning to take
                                                                                double leave at half pay so
                                                                              I can spend extra time with
                                                                           my baby. This means I will
                                                                          have an extra 10 weeks to feed
                                                                          and nurture my baby.’




THE PEOPLE OF NSW ARE BEHIND NURSES
As part of the ‘No Fix Without Nurses’ campaign, the NSWNA asked members of the
public to show their support of a decent pay rise for nurses by sending a campaign
postcard to the NSW government.
17,000 people showed their support for nurses by sending in a postcard, and a truckload
were delivered to Premier Bob Carr’s office, turning up the heat on the government to do
the right thing by our nurses.


Phillip Sheard (right), CNE and secretary of the Sydney Hospital/Sydney Eye Hospital branch, and
Lesley Hackett, NUM, delivered 17,000 postcards from the public to the Premier on behalf of the NSWNA.


 The NSWNA wishes to thank the people of NSW for supporting nurses
 during their campaign for a fair pay rise.

                                                                                          THE LAMP JUNE 2005 15
s    W O R K L O A D S




Appalling pay offer
last straw for
mental health nurses
                                                 patients early to make way for other
      RICHMOND CLINIC                            patients coming in.                               MACQUARIE HOSPITAL
                                                       ‘Because we did not have enough
                                                 nurses to keep up with the patient load,
Workloads                                        we had security guards covering critically       ‘We need
crisis sparks                                    ill patients. It was totally inappropriate. It
                                                 was just too much!’ said Bunty.
                                                                                                  more mental
emergency                                              This sparked an emergency meeting          health beds’
                                                 of the NSWNA Richmond Clinic Branch,
action                                           where members decided to implement
                                                                                                  g Members at Macquarie
                                                 work bans including refusal to accept
g A crisis situation at                                                                           Hospital are set to impose
                                                 admissions after hours.
Richmond Clinic in                                                                                bans to address a shortage of
                                                       ‘We refused to accept patients
Lismore sparked emergency                                                                         mental health beds
                                                 between 4.30 pm and 8.30 am because
industrial action


                                                                                                                         M
                                                 we did not have the staffing to ensure                                                   embers
                                                 nurse and patient safety,’ said Bunty.                                                  at Mac-




                        M
                                      embers           This resulted in management                                                       quarie
                                      at Rich-   agreeing to cap the number of patients                                                  Hospital
                                      mond       admitted to the clinic to 25. Excess                                     in North Ryde have
                                      Clinic     patients will now be directed to the ED                                  given management
                        imposed work bans        of Lismore Base Hospital, and out-of-area                                until early June to
                                                                                                  Eon Robinson, RN
                        to end gruelling         patients back to their local AHS. Nurses         and secretary of the
                                                                                                                          address a shortage of
                        workloads for mental     will now be offered overtime to address          Macquarie Hospital      mental health beds
Maureen Bunt,
                        health nurses.           staffing shortfalls.                              branch                  resulting in excessive
secretary of NSWNA           Nurses at the 25-                                                    nurse workloads and an unsafe environment
Richmond Clinic
Branch
                        bed mental health unit
                        say the government
                                                 ‘Because we did not                              for staff and patients.
                                                                                                        According to Eon Robinson, RN and
has relied on the good-will of nurses to         have enough nurses                               secretary of the Macquarie Hospital branch,
cover up a staffing shortfall and a shortage of                                                    nurses are fed up with the habitual over-
mental health beds.                              to keep up with the                              admission of patients by management.
      According to secretary of the
NSWNA Richmond Clinic Branch,
                                                 patient load, we                                       ‘We have 14 acute care beds.
                                                                                                  Once full, acute patients are being
Maureen Bunt (Bunty), mental health              had security guards                              diverted to the rehabilitation and respite
nurses at the Clinic have been forced to                                                          wards. We’ve even been forced to put
work for years in an unsafe environment          covering critically                              patients in the observation room. It’s an
because of excessive workload pressure.
      ‘I’ve been here 10 years and in that
                                                 ill patients.’                                   inappropriate and unsafe situation for
                                                                                                  staff and patients,’ he said.
time we have always accepted more patients            The Branch also demanded an                       The NSWNA Macquarie Hospital
than the designated 25 beds of the Clinic.       immediate review of the Mental                   branch agreed to give management one
It’s common to have 30 patients on the           Health Hotline, which has resulted in            month to propose measures to cease the
ward. We have them on mattresses on the          inappropriate referrals to Richmond Clinic.      over-admission of patients to the 195-bed
floor. It’s totally inappropriate and unsafe           ‘When we heard about the                    hospital, otherwise they will impose bans on
for the nurses and the patients,’ she said.      government’s appalling pay offer, it was         the admission of patients over bed numbers.
      Nurses reached a crisis situation in       a real slap in the face. The government                ‘So far, management has put on the
April during a particularly busy weekend         refused to pay us a 4% pay rise, as received     table various contingency plans that are
when they were forced to discharge               by similar health professionals,’ said Bunty.    not acceptable to members,’ said Eon.
16 THE LAMP JUNE 2005
g Overworked mental health nurses have battled
for years to hold together a system in crisis – then
the government has told them they were not worth
a 4% pay rise. So the cover up on chronic nurse
workloads must end …




                                                                       M
      ‘These include the provision of extra                                          ental       unit. We had to call the police to resolve
staff when there are more patients than                                              health      the situation.’
we are staffed for, the creation of a special                                        nurses at         This was resolved to the satisfaction of
discharge clinic that will enable patients                                           Maitland    all, but by this time nurses had had enough.
to be moved from the acute care ward                                   Hospital have also              Members say the issue came to a
and regular status meetings with nursing                               battled to care for       head because of the government’s refusal
staff. An area bed manager position has                                more patients than        to give nurses the same pay rise as other
also been introduced, whose role is to                                 beds in the mental        health professionals.
juggle acute care mental health beds in          Lindsay Patterson,
                                                                       health unit.                    Worn out members called a branch
the AHS.                                         NSWNA Maitland                                  meeting where they decided on work bans
                                                 Hospital's Secretary
                                                                            According to
      ‘But juggling mental health beds                                                           including a refusal to accept more acutely ill
                                                                       RN and secretary of
will not solve the problem – it’s a bit                                                          patients once the 24 beds in the unit are full.
                                                 the NSWNA Maitland Hospital branch,
like juggling deckchairs on the Titanic.                                                               Management has committed to provide
                                                 Lindsay Paterson, there was inadequate
What we desperately need is more mental                                                          additional staffing if more than 24 patients
health beds,’ said Eon.                          staffing and the skill mix was insufficient
                                                                                                 are admitted to the ward after consultation.
      ‘Nurses are willing to put up with a lot   to cope with the patient load.
                                                      ‘The problem was that management
but the government’s reluctance to pay us
fairly has just fuelled our anger.’              did a count of patients at midnight. This        ‘Sometimes we have
                                                 did not include patients who were on
                                                 leave for the night or weekend, so beds
                                                                                                  had up to 30 patients
 MAITLAND HOSPITAL                               appeared vacant. The patients would              in the ward. We nearly
                                                 return from leave the next moarning or
                                                 on the Monday following weekend leave            always had more than
Maitland                                         to find their bed had been filled. On the
                                                                                                  the 24 beds we were
                                                 morning shift extra patients were, often
Nurses refuse                                    in the ward waiting for assessment,’             staffed for.’
more patients                                    he said.
                                                      ‘Sometimes we have had up to 30                 Through their Reasonable Workloads
                                                 patients in the ward. We frequently have        Committee, members are also pushing
g Worn out mental health                         more than the 24 beds we are staffed for.       to have a NUM role on the afternoon
nurses at Maitland Hospital                           ‘It was an unsafe situation and this       shift freed from a patient case load and
fight for adequate staffing and                    was highlighted in April when a patient         directed to nurse management as well as a
skill mix                                        barricaded himself in the observation           discharge planner. n




                                                                                                                         THE LAMP JUNE 2005 17
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                                                          s    W O R K L O A D S
Picture ctaken by Daily Liberal and Macquarie Advocate




                                                         NSWNA Dubbo branch members with delegate Rosemary Schwarz (far right)




                                                         Pay rebuff final insult for
                                                         overworked Dubbo nurses
                                                         g Work bans at Dubbo Base Hospital have achieved                                                terms of reference for the review and
                                                                                                                                                         selection of the reviewer. The NUM and
                                                         a commitment from management to address                                                         evening Nurse Manager will also have the
                                                         gruelling nurse workloads.                                                                      power to cancel any non-urgent cases and
                                                                                                                                                         routine cases that will attract overtime, and




                                                         G
                                                                           oodwill drove theatre               A massive 516 hours overtime worked       will oversee self rostering to ensure a safe
                                                                           nurses at Dubbo Hospital       by nurses in March drove members to            skill mix for each shift. It was also agreed
                                                                           to take on gruelling           hold a crisis meeting where they agreed        that additional nursing staff will be recruited
                                                                           overtime to cover chronic      to implement work bans including refusal       before extra theatre lists commence.
                                                                           understaffing in the            to work additional lists in theatres without         The branch agreed to lift the bans on
                                                                           surgery wards; but it was      adequate staffing and refusal to take on        the condition that nurse workloads are
                                                         the NSW Government’s mean-spirited               non-life-threatening cases after 9 pm on       monitored on a weekly basis.
                                                         refusal of a decent pay rise that pushed         weekdays and 8 pm on weekends.                       Rosemary said: ‘Out of a sense of
                                                         them too far.                                                                                   goodwill, we took on overtime and missed
                                                              Members at Dubbo Base Hospital              ‘When the government                           out on meal breaks to take up the slack.
                                                         imposed works bans that achieved a                                                                    ‘When the government refused to
                                                         commitment from management to
                                                                                                          refused to pay us a 4%                         pay us a 4% pay rise, it was just the last
                                                         address ongoing workload pressure on             pay rise, it was just the                      straw. It showed us they have no respect
                                                         theatre nurses.                                                                                 for nurses. We felt we were just covering
                                                              According to NSWNA delegate                 last straw. It showed                          up the problems for them and we were
                                                         Rosemary Schwarz, members were                                                                  being taken for granted.
                                                         forced to take action because patient and
                                                                                                          us they have no respect                              ‘What worries me is that we get new
                                                         nurse safety was at risk due to chronic          for nurses.’                                   graduates who take one look and see how
                                                         understaffing in the theatres.                                                                   frantic and stressed we are and they say,
                                                              ‘For a number of years, nurses have               Following this action by the NSWNA       “forget it, we don’t want to work here”.
                                                         had heavy workloads but the problem just         Dubbo branch, management agreed to an                ‘The nursing workforce at the
                                                         exploded over the past few months. We were       extra two RNs each shift and an external       hospital is nearing 50 years of age. Who
                                                         frantic every shift. Nurses were very stressed   review of theatre lists over the next four     is going to replace us when the profession
                                                         and morale was really low,’ she said.            weeks. Nurses will be consulted over the       is so undervalued and overworked?’ n
                                                                                                                                                                                 THE LAMP JUNE 2005 19
s    A G E N D A




                           ENDANGERED
g Nurses will have to defend their right to a                                                 A struggle for the future of
reasonable workload and other hard-fought rights and                                          unionism
conditions under the nurses’ award when the Howard                                            ACTU Secretary Greg Combet agrees the
government grabs control of the Senate on 1 July.                                             government’s agenda is serious and there
                                                                                              will be a struggle for the future of unionism




W
                      hen the federal             NSWNA General Secretary Brett               and the right to collectively bargain.
                      government takes      Holmes says the changes are loaded                      ‘It is a substantial challenge. What the
                      control of the        to benefit business at the expense of              government is trying to do is individualise
                      Senate from 1 July,   Australian working families.                      working relationships.
                      John Howard –               ‘The government’s plans would make                ‘In most advanced economies like the
                      for the first time     it harder for working Australians to get          UK and the United States, there is a provision
since he became Prime Minister – will       ahead and take them backwards at a time           in the laws for collective agreements. Under
be able to pass whatever laws he likes      when many are just keeping their heads            the Howard government’s changes we will
without them being blocked or changed       above water,’ he says.                            end up with the worst of all worlds.
by the Senate.                                    Brett says many of the government’s               ‘The government wants every worker to
     The government says it wants to use    plans will have important consequences            be employed on an individual contract or as
these new powers to rewrite Australia’s     for NSW nurses.                                   an independent contractor. If they had their
workplace laws and take away many                 ‘The creation of a national system          way, every employee would have to have an
Australian workers’ basic rights.           using corporate law will mean there               ABN (Australian Business Number).
                                            will be no safe haven in state Labor                    ‘What their intentions boil down to is
                                            jurisdictions. If you work for or are             a direct employment arrangement between
                                            employed by an incorporated board, such           employers and employees with no unions,
                                            as a health board, you will be drawn into         no tribunals and no arbitration. It will
                                            the federal system.                               lead to increased inequality, declining
                                                  ‘The government intends reducing the        standards of living, less healthy and safe
                                            number of matters in awards. For example,         workplaces and a reduced role for unions
                                            they will be able to take the workloads clause    and collective bargaining.
  ‘What their intentions                    out of our public hospital award.’                      ‘The attacks have already started with
                                                  There are currently more than 50            over 90,000 employees in the tertiary
  boil down to is a direct                  Clauses in the Public Hospitals Nurses' (State)   education system being offered individual
  employment arrangement                    Award. The federal government wants to            contracts in return for funding.
  between employers and                     reduce the number of Clauses to 16, and                 ‘They intend to abolish the way
                                            businesses are pushing for only six.              minimum wages are set, take out the
  employees with no unions,                       ‘Other important gains like super will      union role so wages will be frozen or
  no tribunals and no                       also be removed from awards,’ said Greg.          decline in value.’
  arbitration. It will lead                       ‘Our ability to take industrial action            Although the government’s agenda
                                            will be constrained. For example, the             is draconian, unions throughout Australia
  to increased inequality,                  families of patients will be able to take         are prepared to defend the interests of their
  declining standards of                    action under the Act and demand the               members, says Greg Combet,
  living, less healthy and safe             termination of industrial action.                        ‘When I talk to unions around the
                                                  ‘In a broader sense, by bringing            country, there is no fear or panic. We’re
  workplaces and a reduced                  state workers into the federal arena they         going to fight. We’re going to protect as
  role for unions and collective            are reducing the influence of state Labor          many people as we can within the state IR
  bargaining.’                              governments on the economy and their              systems. And for those workers pushed into
                                            ability to deliver fairness. It is all about      the federal IR system, we are going to push
  – Greg Combet, ACTU Secretary -
                                            centralising power in Canberra.’                  Howard back as far as possible.’ n
20 THE LAMP JUNE 2005

				
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