Together Medical Officers Portal

15 February meeting update

Posted by Alex Scott on February 20, 2012

MOCA 3 negotiations continued this week with discussion of matters in the interest category of simplifying, clarifying and interpreting existing Award provisions and other industrial instruments.

Professional Development Assistance

Queensland Health led with an explanation of their interest in having the whole professional development assistance package better described and managed – to characterize it as a necessity for patient safety, and part of a holistic medical clinical accountability framework.

The unions responded that they have no objection to this provided there is no reversion to a previous system of accounting for use of the Professional Development Allowance (PDA) and it does not just shift pressure from one point to another.

It is a fact that Professional Development Leave (PDL) balances in most locations are increasing – some to levels where the discharge of balances is very difficult or impossible – and PDL is not paid out when an employee leaves QH.

Unions indicated they see merit in improving approval processes for PDL to mobilize its use however we will require QH to concurrently commit to adequate resourcing to enable the leave to be taken and maintain appropriate staffing levels.

If clinical managers have key performance indicators for appropriate management of PDL through a performance appraisal and development (PAD) process, they need to be supported with adequate resources and an escalation process if they don’t.

Awards Simplification

QH also led a discussion the possibility of the MSRPP and MORPP Award being combined with the SMOs and RMOs Award. Over time the similarities of the awards have overtaken the differences and combining the awards without loss of conditions is a matter the unions indicated they would have a shared interest in.

Non-clinical time

QH expressed an interest in referencing in the agreement the concept and need for non-clinical time. This is overdue and an interest we share with QH. Matters of definition will be further explored but quantum will be difficult to specify as the need varies in different work situations and some principles and practices may need to be developed.

Meal Allowances

The parties will consider a range of documentation on meal allowances and ways to easier reference the entitlement. Meal allowances vary with different circumstances e.g during overtime, during temporary accommodation while waiting for permanent accommodation at a new site, when travelling and relieving.

Departure from the Interest-based Bargaining (IBB) process

It does seem to the unions that QH is not being at all consistent in applying the IBB process that we all agreed to.

QH and JAG representatives are saying one moment that the IBB process does not allow for comparison with other employees' conditions of employment but at the same time they appear to be preoccupied with the interface of the Medical Officers agreement with other occupational groups’ agreements.

In IBB the parties should be allowed to discuss anything and everything. However, QH and the department of Justice and Attorney-General  (JAG, who are the central agency for bargaining with the Queensland government) have argued we should not discuss comparable VMO provisions despite the fact  they have introduced examples in other recent agreements of cashable savings and are continually looking at the possibility of flow-on effects to other groups.

QH and JAG have boxed the negotiations in to the current wages policy of 2.5% with an extra .5% available with cashable savings. In our view this too is contrary to IBB where the parties discuss their interests and options and apply filters (such as affordability) at the end when deciding what goes in the agreement. Besides this being a corruption of the process it takes no account of the different levels of cashable savings able to be made by different groups.

Another departure from the IBB process occurred in QH announcing this week that it will not now be tabling a log of claims because they say a log of claims does not fit with the IBB process. At the commencement of our meetings all parties agreed to submit their logs by a certain date with the understanding that those log items simply represent one option for resolving identified issues in areas of interest. QH have done a back flip on this so no logs of claims (by management or unions) will now be published. We will simply move through the IBB process of examining interests, identifying shared interests and ways of resolving issues.

Given the number of matters discussed so far, the number still to be discussed and the need to go back over them at least twice, we still hold concerns that the IBB process will not be properly completed by June but rushed/shut down at the last minute. We recommended the negotiations that are programmed for 5 hours/week be extended to 6 hours but QH was not receptive to that suggestion. Clearly this has implications for backdating which QH still insists is only available if agreement is reached by the end of June – contrary to their approach with VMOs.

We hope you continue to follow our blogs and give us your feedback by emailing Jenny.Cannon@together.org.au as we go. The blog is an innovation to the union’s bargaining plan and represents an unprecedented opportunity for Medical Officers to participate in real-time in the negotiations.  It is important too that you are talking to other members in your workplace about the negotiations and encouraging non-member colleagues to join. The more involvement from grass roots membership the better outcomes we will achieve together.