Together Medical Officers Portal

Negotiation delays

Posted by Alex Scott on February 9, 2012

At the 3rd MOCA 3 negotiation meeting this week, Queensland Health (QH) advised that it is still not in a position to table its log of claims or full list of interests. This tardiness and departure from the agreed process so early in negotiations is disappointing and, in our view, undermines the high level of trust and confidence needed in an interest-based bargaining (IBB) context. Not only are we concerned to establish good faith bargaining but we are concerned that negotiations are likely to be unnecessarily prolonged as a result of those interests  not being brought to the table in a timely manner. Together expects QH to reveal their full range of interests without any further delay.

QH has however nominated certain interests that they are prepared to discuss until their representatives are authorized to reveal QH’s full range of interests. These fall into the category of existing award or administratively applied entitlements that could be simplified, clarified, or interpreted.

Classification structure

In a ‘without prejudice’ context the parties considered the possibility of making changes to nomenclature in the existing classification structure to

a)      align positions to payroll codes to avoid errors in levels of appointment and progression

b)      align classifications with AHPRA recognized qualifications

c)      align MSRPP and MORPP conditions with other SMO classifications

d)      eliminate uncertainty around the appropriate appointment levels for certain groups e.g. Senior Registrars and international medical graduates.

All parties acknowledged the problems associated with the current classification structure and share an interest in resolving them in a manner that is cost neutral and on the basis of no disadvantage to individuals. Further work will be done in coming weeks to consider the best way for that to occur.

Extended hours

A lively discussion was had on the muddied battleground of extended hours, with QH declaring an interest in simplifying the existing MOCA2 approval process for extended hours and examining the whole subject of extended hours - including appropriate remuneration.

To date your delegates are not persuaded of any need to simplify the extended hours process detailed in MOCA2. In fact we have concerns that scant regard has been paid to utilizing the very straightforward provisions.

The parties did however identify a shared interest in identifying safety net conditions for extended hours arrangements. Together indicated that these conditions would be factors that would promote sustainability of rosters, provide for work/life balance and enhance recruitment and retention of staff.

In terms of the appropriate remuneration for extended hours work, the parties acknowledged that some conditions have not been collectively negotiated with unions and are an ongoing subject of dispute in a few locations. The ED 25% falls into this category.

Although the allowance was not negotiated with the legitimate industrial representatives, unions were close observers of the events that resulted in the non-union agreement. Our union has always been very clear that the ED 25% is justified for the working of shiftwork (as worked in many EDs - and ONLY worked in EDs – at the time). The requirement to work shift work was identified as a significant barrier, not only to recruiting and retaining SMOs in the ED craft group, but also to attracting new trainees to the specialty. In that sense the payment represented compensation for the disruption to work/life balance.

In recent times QH and the unions agreed on a document describing eligibility for the ED 25% payment however QH has departed from this document in its implementation (without any consultation) of acute primary care clinics.

It is not surprising that the whole issue of extended hours and the standard application of industrial principles is being brought to a head now. With LHHNs coming in to existence in July this year, and the need to establish a consistent employment framework, it is in the interests of all parties to the MOCA3 negotiations to agree on the nature, extent, standards and remuneration for SMO extended ordinary hours of work.

At this point, it is important for members to note that, in the spirit of IBB, your representatives will genuinely consider all issues brought to the table by any party as well as all options for resolution of those issues. This is done in a non-binding / ‘without prejudice’ fashion. It will be members who ultimately decide on the suitability of proposed changes for a replacement  agreement to be eventually put to ballot of all medical officer employees.

Please look out for invitations in future blogs for workplace contacts to teleconference with the negotiators on key matters. If you wish to register as a workplace contact for this purpose please email

Scheduled for initial discussion at the next meeting on 15th February are

-          clarification of Professional Development Assistance

-          Training for safe clinical practice (MAP guidlelines)

-          merging of Awards

-          definition of non-clinical time

-          clarification of award in terms of reimbursement of RMOs reasonable expenses on appointment and secondment.