Blue Care Stronger Together

Allied Health and Coordinators Staff Negotiation Update.

Posted by Alex Scott on February 24, 2012

Thank you for sending comments to bluecare@together.org.au in relation to your employer’s claims to reduce your employment conditions.  Blue Care / WMB have shifted with some issues in the negotiations that were held on Thursday 23 February.  Some of these changes are consistent with those secured on Tuesday when bargaining negotiations occurred in relation to the admin agreement.

Your union, Together, was represented by four of your Delegates or member representatives, Suzanne Jennings (Allied Health Carina), Simone Xouris (Allied Health Central Qld), Anneke Andrews (Allied Health North Qld), Dianne Allen (Residential Coordinator Gold Coast) along with Rana Watson (Together Official). 

Blue Care Allied Health workers and Coordinators are joining their union every day to ensure that their representatives have a greater ability to be heard and to strongly put the position of Together union members in this bargain.  But more members need to join to make a real difference in this campaign against the loss of your employment conditions.

The key issues that were discussed at Thursday’s meeting are as below:-

Blue Care Proposal

Ability to roster employees for shifts in a mixed functions capacity for periods of one day or more.

Such employees to be paid at the applicable rate for each full day worked in each classification.

Together Members' Concerns

You were concerned that this would allow employees to be forced to work at lower grades and be paid as such; and that this condition may be used to punish employees; or it may be used to allow managers to achieve budget targets at the expense of workers.

Outcome

Your employer has attempted to recast their claim.  It was agreed that access to extra hours is a good thing for workers but that the wording in management’s claim does not state this intention.

A sample clause incorporating union feedback will be provided to the next meeting for discussion.

Blue Care Proposal

Update annual leave clause and stipulate:

- Payment to be ordinary rate plus 17.5% loading;

- Public holidays to be paid only when leave is taken during employment

Together Members' Concerns

You were concerned that if your employer removes the current provision where shift workers are entitled to be paid either the 17.5% loading or the projected roster (whichever is the greater) that this would be a major disadvantage to workers who are rostered for regular weekend shifts.

Outcome

After much discussion Blue Care agreed to remove this claim.

Blue Care Proposal

Personal Leave – redraft sick and family leave clauses to clarify entitlement to personal leave (sick leave and carers leave) in accordance with the Fair Work Act

  • requirement to provide evidence of absence due to sick leave for any absence in excess of 2 days in each anniversary year
  • requirement to provide a medical certificate if absence adjoins regular days off, public holidays or annual leave
  • remove procedure for monitoring sick leave

Together Members' Concerns

You were concerned that this claim forces members to provide a sick leave certificate or other proof of illness for single day absences after 2 days of sick leave has been taken in a year.  The impact of this claim is that it will encourage workers to attend work despite being sick.  This may cause a contagion to infect not only the workers but also the residents and clients.

Outcome

Even with the adverse affects of this claim proceeding on both staff and residents and clients

Blue Care refused to remove this claim in its entirety.  In relation to the first part of this claim requiring proof of illness following 2 sick days in any anniversary year, Blue Care have only agreed to provide a draft clause and parameters around how this would work for the next meeting.  In relation to the second part of this claim requiring a medical certificate for all absences adjacent to days off, public holidays or annual leave,  Blue Care have agreed to go back and look at the impact of part-time employees who potentially would need to seek and pay for a medical certificate for every single day of sick leave.  You won the debate on the financial impost that this would cause to workers who are rostered to work short week part-time rosters.

Blue Care Proposal

Ordinary hours of work not to exceed 10 hours in any one day.

Together Members' Concerns

This proposal removes member’s right to refuse additional hours.  This arrangement will be drafted to ensure that it is easier for members to pick up extra hours over their base roster.

Outcome

This claim will be reviewed pending further feedback from members and consideration of the draft clause.

Your have also won ground on several of your claims including:-

  1. Base allowances to be increased annually by the wage increase percentage. Vehicle allowance to continue to be set by the ATO.
  2. Assessment of allowances such as the Excursions and Sleep Over Allowances to occur.
  3. Payment or reimbursement of sick leave whilst on annual leave.
  4. Establishment of six monthly state consultative committee meetings to discuss issues relating to the agreement
  5. Modernised and updated workplace bullying and harassment materials to be developed.
  6. Possible solutions to the relief pool problem to be undertaken and presented to the next negotiation meeting.
  7. Review of the AHP progression from PO2 to PO3.
  8. Paid professional development policy to be developed.

Some of these matters are subject to further discussion.  We need your commitment to secure these positive outcomes.  Blue Care have indicated that they will not change the agreement provisions around OH&S but will work with your union representatives to address any matters via the existing grievance procedure.  Matters such as the professional development allowance, staff relief pool and workplace bullying and harassment issues have resulted in some progress.  However these matters are not settled.

The key matters of concern to Together members continue to be:

  1. Minimum engagements for public holidays with your employer proposing reducing the minimum engagement from 4 hours to 3 hours.
  2. No guarantee of back pay should the bargain go beyond Sept 2012
  3. Removal of references to reviews in the agreement.
  4. No proposed pay increase.

Although we have had some shift in the claims being pursued by your employer as a direct result of your actions, more needs to be done. 

Blue Care continue to refuse to guarantee back pay should the agreement go past the 1 Sept deadline and maintain their position that all classifications review that have been requested be done in the bargaining process.  This means that there is a very real possibility that we may still be bargaining well past the due date for your next pay increase.

Your union is working to secure more frequent meetings in an effort to complete the bargaining process in a more timely fashion.  As you continue to grow in numbers and activity your representatives will be able to excerpt greater pressure on Blue Care to deliver a fair and reasonable outcome for all.

What should you do next?

  1. Send this blog to all of your workmates
  2. Ask your workmates to join Together with you.  You have won some changes already; and there is more that can be won if you join and stand Together.  
  3. Send your feedback and comments to your union representatives at bluecare@together.org.au.
  4. Continue to read this blog for regular updates.