Planned new bargaining system could increase wage growth and equity for female workers

Left to right, aged care RN Stephanie Sullivan, Emergency Department NP Stuart Smith, Annie Butler, Epilepsy NP Sharon Horn and Advanced Practice Nurse Alison Wong.

New legislation, which includes better options for multi-employer bargaining, would finally help lift wages, improve working conditions and deliver gender-equality across workplaces says the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)

ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said the union was urging MPs and Senators to support the legislation, arguing that while existing bargaining may have been successful in larger, male-dominated industries, workers in fragmented, female-dominated industries, like aged care had continued to suffer and were unable to achieve any real wage growth.

“Our existing bargaining system is outdated and unfair and severely disadvantages workers in smaller, care industries – nurses and carers working in aged care simply have no power,” Ms Butler said.

“Many of our members have been ‘locked-out’ under the existing bargaining system and haven’t had a proper wage rise in years, with their conditions deteriorating to the point where more and more workers have abandoned their profession, leaving nursing homes dangerously understaffed.

Ms Butler said the ‘Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill’ was critical in giving nurses and aged care workers access to a collective bargaining system which allows for much-needed wage-growth, improved conditions and increased gender equity across workplaces.

“We need a bargaining system which is fair and equitable for all workers across all industries.

“The ANMF urges MPs and Senators to support this Bill, as we know that providing our members with a secure, quality job will lead them to providing safe, quality care,” Ms Butler said.

ANMF aged care members in Canberra to watch the Bill introduced into the Parliament today, said it would assist in recruiting and retaining workers in nursing homes.

“A casualised workforce has very little industrial clout, very little security to tenure and very little benefits that a full-time employee gets. If this bargaining agreement can address those issues, that’s a plus, because it will assist retention in the industry and stop the exodus of skilled care workers from our floor,” NSW Registered Nurse, Glen O’Driscoll said.

“We need to attract more workers in aged care. We’re not going to do that if we’re paying them $25 an hour,” NSW Registered Nurse Stephanie Sullivan, added.

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