Prison nurses to start protected industrial action over wages and conditions

Monday 17th June, 2013

Nurses will hold two-hour stop work rallies tomorrow at 12 noon outside five prisons: Barwon Prison in Lara, Dame Phyllis Frost Centre in Ravenhall (this rally will include nurses from the Melbourne Remand Centre), Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat and Loddon Prison in Castlemaine.

Nurses will implement administrative bans tomorrow from 2pm at 11 prisons: Melbourne Assessment Prison in West Melbourne, Metropolitan Remand Centre and the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre both in Ravenhall, Beechworth Correctional Centre, Dhurringile Prison in Murchison, Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat, Langi Kal Kal Prison in Trawalla, Loddon Prison in Castlemaine, Barwon Prison and Marngoneet Correctional Centre in Lara and Tarrengower Prison in Maldon.

Stop work meetings at five prisons

Approximately 60 nurses employed in medical clinics in 11 prisons across Victoria will start taking protected industrial action tomorrow (Tuesday 18 June) to secure improved wages and working conditions. Nurses at five of those prisons will hold 2-hour stop work meetings and rallies outside their workplace tomorrow from 12noon.

After 18 months of negotiations between the Australian Nursing Federation (Victorian Branch) and GEO Care Australia, which manages the prisons, we have reached a stalemate over the date the 2.5 per cent wage increase is to be applied from and the introduction of entitlements that are industry standard for all other Victorian nurses

Nurse entitlements, penalty rates below standard

The current agreement expired in July 2012 and prison nurses' last wage increase was two and a half years ago in January 2011. ANF is seeking agreement from GEO Care Australia to pay nurses the increase from July 2012.

Entitlements for nurses employed by GEO Care Australia are significantly below health industry standard. GEO Care Australia does not pay health industry standard penalty rates to nurses working on public holidays.

In addition the non-payment of annual leave loading and long service leave entitlements of eight weeks at 10 years means their entitlements are significantly lower than nurses in the public or private health system
ANF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: "Nurses only ever take industrial action as a last resort and nurses employed by GEO Care Australia believe that they've exhausted all other avenues to negotiate reasonable wages and conditions that reflect health industry standards.

List of planned protected industrial action

"Client care or safety will not be compromised during this action, however nurses will be sending a strong message to GEO Care Australia that it must respect their clinical skills, knowledge and expertise to ensure it has a stable and robust nursing workforce."

Protected industrial action starting on Tuesday 18 June 2013 from 2pm will include:

  • a ban on undertaking manual filing duties
  • a ban on collecting or transferring any statistical data for patient files
  • a ban on accepting any requests to work in higher duties
  • a ban on any request or direction to work beyond the ordinary finishing time of work
  • a ban on receiving general telephone calls and diverting such calls to the Health Services Manager
  • the wearing of campaign related materials, such as T-shirts, badges and stickers
  • distributing campaign related information to clients and speaking to media as required.