Coal Services members set up an NSWNMA branch, as 5.1 per cent pay increase flows to nurses.
Nurses providing healthcare services to the coal mining industry have won annual pay increases of 3 per cent or equal to inflation, whichever is greater.
The pay deal is part of a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) negotiated between the NSWNMA and Coal Services Pty Ltd, which employs about 45 nurses.
Under the agreement, their first increase from 1 July this year was 5.1 per cent – in line with inflation as measured by the consumer price index.
The union surveyed nurses about their priorities for the new agree-ment and invited members to take part in a bargaining organising committee (BOC).
Six nurses joined the BOC, took part in bargaining meetings with management and reported back to members.
Bargaining meetings ran from February to June and the new agreement was supported by 98 per cent of Coal Services employees who voted.
BOC members also collected signatures to form a new NSWNMA branch at Coal Services.
It covers members at all five office locations: Lithgow, Mudgee, Singleton, Speers Point and Woonona. A sixth office is soon to open at Gunnedah.
Branch secretary and delegate Helen Sparke said Coal Services members now had a local union structure to represent them and participate in.
“We are scattered across a wide geographical area so we will hold branch meetings by teleconference,” Helen said.
“Coal Services nurses have been represented by the NSWNMA since 2012 and it’s been very positive for us.”
She said an NSWNMA officer helped nurses formulate a log of claims and was involved in discussions with management during the negotiations, “resulting in a good outcome for nurses”.
“Having our union’s advice and involvement in our EBA was beneficial and it would have been difficult without that support.”
An impressive display of union power
NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary, Shaye Candish, congratulated Coal Services members on achieving the EBA and setting up a new branch in the same week, describing this as “an impressive display of union power”.
Problems surrounding the payment of a $40-per-day on-site allowance to Coal Services nurses was also taken up by the NSWNMA.
The allowance has been paid since 2012 to compensate for dust, noise and other conditions.
Helen said management recently adopted a “practice note” with a narrow interpretation of the allowance clause and some nurses believed they were unfairly denied the payment.
After negotiations, Coal Services agreed to revise the practice note and consult with industry clients and nurses to determine which sites would give rise to payment of the allowance.
The consultation will include site inspections.
Helen said a list of applicable sites would be published to ensure fairness and consistency of payment.
Coal Services and its subsidiaries are private companies created by statute (the Coal Industry Act 2001 (NSW)), with statutory responsibilities that are administered by the NSW Government.
Coal Services nurses mainly carry out pre-employment and periodic medicals, drug and alcohol testing, fit-testing for masks and hearing protection, and immunisations.