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Non-union agreement undermines nurses.

The NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA, ANF NSW Branch) has urged 1,900 nurses and other staff at Anglican aged care facilities across Sydney to reject a non-union wages agreement that will hold down pay and remove some afternoon and night shift payments.

Anglican Retirement Villages' management was putting the proposed agreement to a vote of staff as the ANJ went to press. Nurses at aged care facilities at Rushcutters Bay, Castle Hill, Taren Point, Penrith, Gordon, South Hurstville, Forestville, Dapto and Winston Hills will vote in the ballot. NSWNA genera[ secretary, Brett Holmes, said the union was recommending nurses reject the proposal so a better agreement can be reached.

"We believe this proposed 'agreement' significantly undervalues nurses at a time when we are experiencing a significant nurse shortage, especially in the aged care sector," Mr Holmes said. "The only pay rise on offer is 4% up front. There is no other pay rise in the proposal, which runs until mid 2010.

A proposed reduction in afternoon and night shift penalty rates would be "a serious blow to a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week profession like nursing," Mr Holmes said. "Survey after survey shows that inadequate pay for shift work is a major reason people leave nursing."

Mr Holmes said the Anglican Church was trying to impose a non-union wages agreement on nurses which undermined their rights at work. "We say to our members in aged care that their rights at work are worth fighting for. Therefore we recommend they reject this proposed agreement being put forward by the Anglican Church. If they do that we can start negotiating an agreement that better values the job they do and protects their rights at work, such as the right to consultation on shift arrangements and the right to full union representation."

In another development in NSW, nurses, doctors and allied health staff in the Illawarra region swapped their uniforms for black clothes for one week last month in support of a chief psychiatrist who resigned from the South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Area Health Service's mental health service.

Associate professor Irwin Pakula, who worked at the service for 30 years, resigned in protest at inadequate resourcing. NSWNA assistant secretary Judith Kiejda said mental health workers in the region were shocked by the resignation. "They believe his resignation leaves a significant deficit in psychiatric services for the mentally ill in the Illawarra. Morale has been deflated since his departure and the recent departure of four other psychiatrists from the service."
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Title Annotation:INDUSTRIAL: NSW
Publication:Australian Nursing Journal
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 1, 2008
Words:414
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