Union: Nurses' anger over move for poorer wages, conditions

Nurses have rejected a new offer on wages and conditions.
Nurses have rejected a new offer on wages and conditions. Leigh Jensen

GYMPIE nurses are among thousands of Queensland nurses to reject a new wages and conditions offer from BlueCare/Wesley Mission Brisbane (BCWMB).

Queensland Nurses' Union (QNU) members voted overwhelmingly to reject the offer - a move that QNU Secretary Beth Mohle said was a result of the BCWMB's attempt to cut overtime, create below award pay and introduce split shifts of as little as an hour.

Ms Mohle said nurses in more than 120 Queensland communities voted to fight the move.

She said nurses looking after the elderly in private facilities already earn almost $600 a fortnight less than their counterparts in the public health system, and the changes could have forced up to 9000 healthcare workers in 126 BCWMB aged care facilities state-wide to seek alternate employment.

"We are very concerned about the impact these unprecedented changes could have had on elderly Queenslanders and the nurses who care for them,'' Ms Mohle said.

"It is not surprising nurses and aged care workers in almost every Queensland community have voted overwhelmingly to fight BlueCare/Wesley Mission Brisbane's attack on pay, conditions and delivery of care.” 

Nurses and carers have sent a strong message to Blue Care and Wesley Mission Brisbane and their substandard agreement has been rejected. It is not known if BCWMB will try to force the previous proposal or amend their offer.

Ms Mohle said BCWMB run aged care facilities throughout the state as part of UnitingCare Queensland which recently reported a $40 million surplus. 

BCWMB's proposed wage and condition changes were outlined in an enterprise bargaining proposal which QNU said offered staff less pay and workplace provisions than those agreed to in 2013.

These included:

  • The removal of overtime resulting in below award wages for hours worked
  • The encouragement of broken shifts, some broken into two or three shifts per day of as little as one hour each
  • The reduction of hours and wages despite existing work contracts and the loss of job security for part-time employees.

The QNU has declared it will work with nurses in impacted communities on industrial activities should BCWMB refuse to offer improved wages and working conditions.

Ms Mohle said the aged care nurses who looked after Queensland's elderly would ensure no residents were impacted as a result of any industrial activities.

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