Nurses accept an extra $110 a week
By REBECCA JENKINS
June 4, 2004
ALL nurses will receive at least $110 a week over three years after accepting the State Government's 16.5 per cent pay offer yesterday.
The Australian Nursing Federation met yesterday to consider a revised enterprise bargaining offer from the State Government.
ANF state secretary Lee Thomas said last night there was overwhelming support for the latest offer, which would bring a minimum of 16.5 per cent pay adjustment over three years.
Nurses were seeking a 22 per cent pay increase over three years and improved conditions and had imposed a series of low-level industrial work bans during the negotiations with Government.
"What this means for the nurses in this state is the most significant shift in their wages and conditions in the last decade," said Ms Thomas.
"There are numbers of conditions that are very valuable in not only payment terms but also in balancing work and family life and being able to cope with the demands of nursing as a profession."
The offer means enrolled nurses will see at least $110 extra a week over three years, while a registered nurse will see at least $163 extra a week.
Other measures include annual cash incentives to help attract nurses to remote and rural areas and qualification allowances at new levels.
Nurses have also won the introduction of a standard 10-hour night shift, which will provide a longer break between the late and early shift.
As well, they will be entitled to eight weeks' paid maternity and adoption leave, which can be shared by both partners if they are employees of the Department of Health.
Ms Thomas said it was a "positive outcome".
"People recognise that it was a very significant shift and a massive turnaround in what we have been dealing with for the last few months," she said.
"People actually recognise the ends the Government have gone to to actually make this an attractive agreement for nurses and midwives and to keep them here in this state."
Premier Mike Rann said the agreement would make a "major contribution to getting more nurses into our public health system and encouraging them to stay there".
Industrial Relations Minister Michael Wright said initiatives included funding for more nursing time, which would equate to 460 full-time nurses.
Women's and Children's Hospital registered nurses Adam Michaels and Sue Bates welcomed the terms.
Mrs Bates said: "A lot of nurses have always felt undervalued as far as our pay rates."
She hoped the package would help recruit and retain more nursing staff in the state. The term of the in-principle agreement is for three years from July 1.