Maternal and child health nurses in Geelong will begin the first stage of industrial action on Wednesday after they rejected an annual leave offer by the city's council.
Nurses from 20 maternal and child health centres across the Geelong region will forgo filling in electronic diaries, attending work-related meetings (excluding those relating to clinical supervision), carrying out administrative tasks and updating data.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) said the latest move was in response to the City of Greater Geelong Council’s refusal to include the modern Nurses Local Government Award 2015’s minimum working conditions in the new enterprise bargaining agreement.
“The conditions provide a fifth week of annual leave which is designed to recruit and retain maternal and child health nurses and prevent critical skill shortages,” the branch said.
Negotiations between the union and the City of Greater Geelong Council led to an agreed 2.3 per cent per annum wage rise over four years. However, they rejected the council’s offer to consider a fifth week of annual leave dependent on the outcome of a review of the service.
City of Greater Geelong Director Community Life Linda Quinn said the City was hopeful of reaching an in-principle agreement with the ANMF, however has been unable to achieve a resolution on this last outstanding claim.
“As a result, the City has decided to proceed with putting the EA to a vote to all our employees,” Quinn said. “This includes providing the proposed EA to all employees for viewing prior to a vote on the agreement taking place.
“Overall, our MCH nurses currently receive equitable and rewarding pay and conditions that are well above modern award conditions. The City’s MCH nurses are provided with great opportunities for work/life balance, with generous salaries and conditions in line with the much-appreciated service they provide.”
Branch secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said nurses were extremely angry at the council’s refusal of basic nursing entitlements and its claim that it had offered five weeks "when all it has done is offered to consider an extra week dependent on the outcome of an undefined service review".
Fitzpatrick assured the public that while parents may be inconvenienced, the health and safety of their children will not be at risk.
“Maternal and child health nurses reduce and prevent serious and expensive health and social problems by providing parents, babies and their families with support, education and advice.
“This includes confidential referrals to assist parents and children in a domestic violence situation or exposed to distress caused by financial, disability, mental health or new migrant and language issues.
“Their employer should respect their valuable work by offering the minimum conditions for nurses instead of taking them for granted,” she said.
The ANMF calls on members of the community and fellow council employees to stand in solidarity with the nurses taking action to assist them in resolving the issue.Do you have an idea for a story?
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