Together Medical Officers Portal

Latest update on MOCA

Posted by Alex Scott on May 28, 2012

As you are aware through the updates provided on negotiations with QHealth (QH), bargaining has been extremely challenging. We accept that our new government has financial difficulties however you, as a Together member, have not made unrealistic claims.  Indeed, we have offered to partner with QH in improving medical care of Queenslanders but this has been rejected to date.  We are told that QH managers need the prerogative to better manage their staff and the service; but for that to work we need to ensure that there are adequate resources and staffing – there has been no such commitment. How much faith should we place in good management by QH? You don’t need a long memory to think of examples of poor management in Queensland Health.

It appears that some of the changes they want to force on us have been in the pipeline for some time but curiously they weren’t applied to other occupational groups such as nurses or VMOs.  Why target the good work that Together members do every day in providing an important service to Queenslanders?

In a very short time we will know if this hard line will be held. You can be assured Together delegates and representatives will not be steamrolled into a one sided package to the disadvantage of members. But now more than ever you need to be in a union. Together delegates, who are your conscientious union colleagues, are working very hard in protecting your rights and entitlements and offering to work collaboratively in enhancing the health of Queenslanders.

Please read on and see the magnitude of the difficulties we face but also to realize there are opportunities for you to make your mark.

Priority Advice to SMOs regarding offer of 12 month renewal of Option A contracts

SMOs with Option A contracts that expire on 30 June have probably recently all received an offer to extend that contract for 12 months.

Our advice to members at this stage is NOT to sign that 12 month extension as there are significant problems with the current contract and it is not in your interest to lock yourself into it.

One major problem is that these contracts (which should have been negotiated with the Union but weren’t) contain a clause that effectively allows QH to withdraw the supplementary benefit at any time at their discretion. Right now we are having to assist some members who are being threatened with exactly that.

In MOCA 3 negotiations we are trying to secure your Option A payments so they are the salary supplement they were originally meant to be - and not a means of threatening doctors in various ways.

Please stay tuned to our few remaining MOCA 3 updates. If QH agree to our proposed clause on private practice in MOCA3 negotiations (which involves renegotiating the contracts as QH indicated they would do - unto until a couple of weeks ago) we will be in a position to advise members it is safe to sign the 12 month extension. If QH do not agree, we will need to give consideration to the best and quickest way to protect this significant part of your income.

Please provide this advice to your non-member colleagues and invite them to join the union now. Higher density of membership and preparedness to collectively stand up for your rights WILL make all the difference!

MOCA 3 meeting of 16 May - key points:

  • Doctors to get inferior wages policy. The Public Service Commissioner’s (PSCs) representative’s advised that despite negotiations commencing under the 2.5% + 0.5% wages policy (as did the nurses negotiations) the new wages policy of up to 3% with measurable efficiencies will apply to doctors. It was not applied to nurses who were reported to have been given a ‘special deal’ by the Premier.
  • A number of protections written into MOCA2 were embodied into a new Framework Award last year that was designed to act as a safety net of conditions. The Government has  confirmed they not only want these protections stripped from MOCA but they plan to terminate the Framework Award.
  • QH is firmly of the view that they want to have managerial prerogative over most aspects of private practice despite the fact this has always been a collectively negotiated key part of doctors’ employment package.
  • QH also wants to introduce extended hours for SMOs but is yet to provide us with a fleshed out proposal. 
  • On a slightly positive note QH did however indicate they may be receptive to modifying on-call to remunerate a certain amount of work (including phone advice) undertaken from home. We expect a response to our proposals in this regard at the next meeting.

Unions meeting with government regarding changes to Queensland’s industrial relations laws:

If you have been following these updates you will know how difficult MOCA3 negotiations have been to date.  They have become even more complicated with the government’s announcement at a meeting, called at short notice late last week that Queensland’s industrial relations laws will be altered imminently to harmonise with various provisions in the Fair Work Act.  New legislation could be in place before MOCA3 expires and before the peace obligation period for seeking assistance from the QIRC or for taking industrial action expires.

Unscheduled meeting called by QH:

QH invited 2 representatives from each party to the negotiations to a meeting on Tuesday 22nd -  thus the reason for the slight delay in our updates. At this meeting QH’s Deputy Director-General (HR) wanted to explore our priorities on significant matters where the parties have not been able to find common ground to date.  This informed the agenda for Wednesday’s MOCA 3 meeting at which:

  • Together’s Dr Colin Page made a compelling submission on the necessity to retain the ED 25%.
  • QH probed our willingness to make changes to SMO extended hours in various forms that limit overtime and improve service delivery.
  • QH sought our views on SMO ordinary hours and extending the maximum shift length to 13 hours potentially for seniors and juniors.
  • The unions made submissions on the need to secure Option A payments e.g. by including it in base pay and collectively negotiating new contracts and any new model of private practice.
  • The unions presented a proposal for meritorious service levels (e.g. higher than the current M02-3) that addressed non-financial obstacles to the proposal to date.
  • The unions met with costings experts to ensure the accuracy of costing our claims.

MOCA2 expires this week! However  have received no commitment that any base pay rise will be backdated to the 1 June 2012 despite the fact that QH is absolutely responsible for the delay to the negotiations.


Our last update included a link to an e-petition for the Director-General and Minister to meet with MOCA3 union negotiators to attempt to reach agreement before MOCA2 expires. Regrettably, we still have no response to this invitation even though MOCA2 expires next week.


If ever there were a need for ALL doctors to become engaged and demonstrate their conviction to their claims it is now!  Please do these 3 things to help get support for a better Queensland Health:

  1. If you haven't done so already, click on this link now to send a petition to the Director-General and the Minister for Health. We have heard that some people are having difficulty accessing the Change.org version of this petition - we recommend signing this petition from a home internet connection, rather than Queensland Health. If you are still having difficulty, you can sign this version hosted on the Together site here. Please don't sign both petitions.
  2. Send this message on to your non-member colleagues and encourage them to join here and sign the petition also. We need all medical officers united as a union group, calling for a fair deal for doctors and a better Queensland Health.
  3. Talk to fellow members about what is going on, stay tuned for the next update and prepare to take further action if required.

Members or non-members are welcome to send their comments about this email to:  jenny.cannon@together.org.au.  Non-members will be invited join.