Together Medical Officers Portal

7 March meeting update

Posted by Alex Scott on March 12, 2012

Like most negotiations MOCA3 is delivering up its share of challenges and best laid plans have had to be revisited.

Towards the end of negotiations this week we found out that the Director-General will not sign off on the bargaining plan which QH itself initiated and Alex Scott as Secretary of Together signed. This is very confusing as the bargaining plan was intended to be the firm foundations for the bargaining platform and it now appears that our foundations are more like quicksand. Together has requested urgent clarification from the highest level as to QH’s commitment to the bargaining process before recommencing discussions. Meanwhile your delegates are not vacating proposed meeting dates but reorganizing their work schedule to work up options on various industrial matters that QH has indicated are priority areas for them e.g. flexibility.

We are also facing some difficulties with our negotiating partner’s inability to send representatives to key meetings such as scheduling meetings, caucuses, negotiations on RMO matters this week, and planned discussions on private practice options in coming weeks.  The commitment of ASMOFQ needs to be evidenced so they prioritise actual negotiation meetings.   

Despite these significant obstacles, Together’s negotiation team pressed on with addressing the following interests:

Classification of vocationally registered General Practitioners (VR GPs)

Together’s negotiators and invitee member, Max Mansoor, outlined the inequitable situation where VMO VR GPs have access to the same salary range as FRACGP but SMO VR GPs are restricted to Levels 13 and 14. Our recommendation was that QH adopt parity of SMO and VMO conditions in this respect.

RMO training for safe clinical practice

Although MOCA2 refers to the obligation for QH to provide at no cost training for safe clinical practice it is not always clear what training should be provided. The parties discussed a document developed by the Medical Advisory Panel (MAP) and identified a shared interest in reviewing the guidelines to ensure they are relevant and to add principles to aid in application of the MOCA  clause.

PDA for RMOs

The discussion on the MAP guidelines naturally led back to a discussion about professional development which we again submitted needed to be made equitably available for all RMOs and not just vocational trainees. 

It was pleasing to have our RMO delegate (Melissa White) who has extensive industrial experience released from duty to participate in the discussion of this important topic. She is doing a sterling job for RMOs as a Together delegate.  ASMOFQ could not provide any RMOs for the day of negotiations specifically dedicated to RMO agenda items.

QH stated that they feel their commitment to professional development of RMOs is being adequately discharged in its implementation of the rural generalist pathway. While the union is strongly supportive of the rural generalist pathway, it is only available to few and our SMO and RMO members consider it appropriate that all employees in a professional role should have equitable access to professional development whether it is provided by QH or whether they track their own pathway in training and professional development.

QH also suggested that remuneration levels of doctors may make comparison with other occupational groups who do receive an allowance for professional development irrelevant.  Together will be requesting all parties to the negotiations examine conditions of other groups such as nurses and health practitioners to make a valid comparison.

RMO reimbursement of appointment and relocation expenses and accommodation assistance

This has been a battle ground for years – an unnecessary source of conflict in the workplace between RMOs and their managers. Together ran a dispute in the Qld Industrial Relations Commission last year when QH proposed to introduce a policy less favourable than the Award. We were successful in having implementation of the policy stopped and were willing to negotiate a revision of the policy.  This work was never done.  Does this have anything to do with the possibility of them being open to significant claims for back pay if there was an inference the award was not being complied with? This was a clear risk for QH however in negotiations this week we indicated Together is prepared to look at an interpretation from the date of approval of a new MOCA to deal with this long-standing problem.

Other RMO issues

Supported by Together’s SMO delegates and industrial officer our RMO delegate will be outlining at future meetings a number of other issues for RMOs that need attention. In particular improper rostering practices, access to nutritional meals when on duty for extended periods and overnight, and appropriate rest facilities. 

Now, help us help you!

You can help us do the best job for you if you provide us with data on various matters. Right now we are keen to hear from members

-          Whether you are ever rostered for ordinary hours in excess of 12 (in one shift or contiguous shifts)

-          Whether, in a training program over a 12 month period you have been rostered through a variety of rosters including a block of continuous shiftwork, and a block of day work. In those circumstances we are keen to know more about the circumstances, what volume of nights and weekends you work in the year and if you are only given pro rata of the additional weeks leave for performance of shiftwork rather than the full extra week

-          Whether you have been refused PDL or have been discouraged from  applying for it because of an inability to be released

-          Whether rest facilities are adequate at your workplace

-          Whether you have access to nutritional meals while on extended duty or performing night shifts

Finally, more members means more influence in negotiations and the only organization doing those negotiations at present is Together. You can join your union online here.  Please distribute this link to your colleagues in the workplace and encourage them to join and become part of the growing collective movement for better staffing levels, better pay and conditions, equity, work/life balance,  and progressive industrial provisions.

We hope you continue to follow our blogs and give us your feedback 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 by emailing your comments to jenny.cannon@together.org.au .  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.