Victorian nurses and midwives approve improved 28.4% wages offer

ANMF (Vic Branch) public sector members voting to start protected industrial action at a recent statewide members' meeting. Photo: Chris Hopkins

An ANMF (Vic Branch) statewide members’ meeting was held this afternoon to consider the new offer after members rejected the government’s most recent wages policy of 12.55%, cash bonuses and an additional gender equity uplift of between 5.5 and 13.3% based on the future outcome of the ANMF’s Fair Work Commission (FWC) aged care work value case, due to numerous uncertainties.

In a statement, the ANMF (Vic Branch) said today’s offer realises the gender equity increase the FWC expert panel has foreshadowed in ANMF’s aged care work value case and provides dates for all increases and restores relativities between approximately 30 classifications.

Under the new four-year agreement, all allowances and penalties will increase by 28.4% by 2027. Some penalties such as night duty and qualifications allowance will increase by more. The new deal will need to go to a members’ ballot and then be approved by the FWC.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said members asked the union to go back to the negotiating table and come back with certainty over the offer recommended on 20 May.

“We have done that, and we’ve secured a significant gender equity wage increase for a nursing and midwifery workforce that is 89% female,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

“There is still much work to do to acknowledge nurses and midwives work through the pandemic and address current workforce and staffing pressures so that nurses and midwives can start to love their work again.

“The wages and new and improved allowances and penalties and terms and conditions are designed to retain our early career and experienced nurses and midwives, recruit new nurses and midwives and start to rebuild our health system.”

The ANMF’s aged care work value case began in 2021 in response to the aged care royal commission recommendations. The ANMF (Vic Branch) says FWC President Justice Hatcher and the expert panel’s stage 3 decision on 15 March provided it with a strong starting point to argue in negotiations with the Allan Government that the work of public sector nurses and midwives as a whole has been undervalued based on gender.

Percentage increases vary for the graduate nurse/midwife and the first seven registered nurse classifications up to Grade 2 Year 7, according to the ANMF (Vic Branch). These classifications, which would have been paid lower than the Award once the FWC makes its final decision, will increase by the full gender equity uplift in July 2024. The increase will be followed by three more annual increases. For these classifications:

  • 2024 increases vary between 17.51% and 5.00%
  • 2025 increases vary between 3% and 4.23%
  • 2026 increases vary between 3% and 4.1%
  • 2027 increases vary between 3% and 12.72%

Section 206 of the Fair Work Act requires that an EBA pay rate must not be less than the otherwise applicable Nurses Award rate. Public sector employers will only be required to flow the Award increase outcomes to those who work in public aged care where they fall below the new Nurses Award rates when they are decided, the ANMF (Vic Branch) states.

ANMF (Vic Branch) has secured the foreshadowed increase for all classifications including those above Grade 2 year 7. These classifications will have two increases per year:

  • In 2024 increases will occur in June and July and total 5%
  • In 2025 increases will occur in May and November and total 4.22%
  • In 2026 increases will occur in May and November and total 4.09%
  • In 2027 increases will occur in May and November and total 12.72%

Importantly, all classifications will be earning 28.4% (compounded) more on their base rate by 29 November 2027. For example, a graduate nurse/midwife earning a current weekly base rate of $1298.60, will earn $1667.60 by November 2027. A Grade 2 Year 7 will rise from $1762.70 to $2263.40.

EBA negotiations began in October 2023 between ANMF (Vic Branch), the Victorian Hospitals’ Industrial Association and the Department of Health, with the current agreement expiring on 30 April 2024.

Following the endorsed vote, ANMF members’ industrial action will now cease.

The offer retains all of the new and improved allowances and penalties and improved terms and conditions in the earlier offer, the ANMF (Vic Branch) says.

Key improvements in addition to the wage increases include:   

  • a change of ward allowance to compensate nurses and midwives when they are moved from their base ward and encourage employers to stop using redeployment as a business-as-usual rostering practice
  • improved night shift penalties for permanent nurses and midwives
  • improved on-call and recall allowances
  • a 92% increase to the qualifications allowance by the end of the agreement
  • a right to disconnect clause – a new process for employers to follow to fill shifts so that nurses and midwives are not continually contacted to work shifts they are not seeking
  • improved access to flexible working arrangements recognising that nurses and midwives being available 24 hours seven days a week is a so-called ‘inherent requirement’ but not a reasonable business ground to refuse a request for a flexible working arrangement
  • interstate public sector nurses and midwives relocating to Victoria will have their service recognised for the purposes of personal leave and long service leave.

Read a list of 75 new and improved terms and conditions here

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