Health and aged care worker unions have raised concerns that some aged care providers are trying to “short-change” nurses and aged care workers by not passing-on full wage increases.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and the United Workers Union (UWU) has said some members are reporting that some providers are rushing to lock them into new Enterprise Agreements (EA) – offering wage increases that won’t pass on the full amount of additional funding allocated to cover a 15% wage increase for aged care workers.
In November, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) ordered a 15% interim pay increase to be implemented across 18 months, but last month it was announced the full increase would come into play this June.
ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, is calling on the Federal Government to ensure there is transparency and accountability around the wage increase so funds go into the pockets of aged workers, not the wallets of providers.
“[providers are] ‘gaming’ the new Government funding model, trying to short-change underpaid nurses and care workers,” she said.
“There needs to be rules or triggers imposed by the Government that require aged care providers to pass the additional funding on to higher wages – many employers on the ground are saying that unless they are ‘legally required’ to pass the money on they will simply use their discretion about how they spend it.
“It must be used for the purpose it is provided – higher wages. Otherwise, the aged care staffing crisis will not be addressed and pay rates won’t increase sufficiently to enable the attraction and retention of nursing and care staff.”
UWU Aged Care Director, Carolyn Smith, said some of their members also raised concerns that some providers are trying to use circumnavigation tactics in an effort to prevent the FWC’s wage rises being handed down to workers.
“The wage rise funding should only be used as intended – to boost the wages of the aged care workforce – and not be used to bolster providers’ profits or bottom line,” Ms Smith said.
“The United Workers Union urges the Government to implement a mechanism to ensure that 15% wage increases are provided to workers.”
ANMF want to see the Government consult with ANMF members on how the funding will be applied and ensure they get the wage increases that they have been waiting for.
The ANMF Victoria Branch has filed bargaining dispute applications to the FWC, including applications about four Lifeview aged care facilities,14 mecwacare facilities as well as their home care services.
Ms Butler said some providers are refusing to promise that all funding for higher wages will go to aged care workers.
“These providers won’t agree to include a clause in their proposed EAs which provides for three basic principles – transparency about the funding they receive, consultation with the ANMF when they receive it and a commitment to pass on all additional work value money provided by the Commonwealth as higher wages,” she explained.
“These providers are not alone in saying they will not commit to passing all work value funding on to employees.”
Has your employer tried to make you sign a new Enterprise Agreement? Let us know in the comments below.