Nurses need improved work conditions

Thursday 9th May, 2013

Australia’s largest health union, the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF), has called on the Opposition to acknowledge that nurses, midwives and care workers need urgent improvements to their working conditions.

Speaking after the release of the Opposition’s industry relations policy, ANF Federal Secretary, Lee Thomas, said the policy fails to recognise that nurses, midwives and care workers throughout the health and aged care sectors, have long been reliant on penalty rates, shift loadings and other entitlements.

“Our members are called upon to deliver quality care to the community, at any hour of the day or night, weekends and on public holidays, taking them away from their family and friends at often unsocial hours,” Ms Thomas said today.

“It’s only right that they continue to receive fair and proper remuneration which importantly includes their penalty rates.

“That’s why the ANF, on behalf of our growing membership, is now calling on the Opposition to provide greater detail on how it’s not only going to protect these entitlements for Australia’s nursing and midwifery workforce in the future, but to also improve their conditions in the workplace.

“From our perspective, there are still too many unanswered questions on how the Opposition plans to do this. Nurses, midwives and care workers need certainty in the workplace - they cannot live in fear of having their penalty rates and other entitlements ignored or substantially reduced as part of any future review of the Fair Work Act.

“The aged care alone sector needs 20,000 highly-trained nurses to meet the demands of Australia’s rapidly ageing population.

“If penalties and loadings were to be removed, it would be extremely difficult for aged care providers to staff their facilities, which would only lead to a dramatic reduction in the levels of care provided to older, vulnerable residents.”

The ANF, with over 225,000 members, is the professional and industrial voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.

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