Allity hard line boosts union strength
Company unable to quash member action.
“We stand a better chance of winning our claims when more people join the union,” says Lucy Murphy, NSWNMA branch secretary at Allity’s Beechwood nursing home.
“We are attracting new members because staff realise that more people joining the union strengthens our negotiating position,” she says.
Lucy works as a registered nurse at the Allity facility in the south western Sydney suburb of Revesby.
After more than a year of trying to negotiate a new agreement, Lucy says, “more people understand that nothing much will change without action on our part.
“They can see the company is to blame for the delay in getting a new agreement.
“They are angry and fed up with always having to work short staffed while being pressured to accept ridiculous pay offers.”
Many Beechwood staff did not know their enterprise agreement was about to expire until notified by the NSWNMA.
“That’s when we started a petition to get Allity to negotiate with us,” Lucy says.
“Instead of negotiating seriously, they forced us to have a vote on their offer of a piddling 1.8 per cent wage increase with no back pay, which members found insulting.
“As the petitions went around, more people got interested in what the union was doing to achieve a better deal.”
She says that as a branch official, it’s her role to keep fellow staff members informed about campaign developments and educate people about what the union does.
“We also ask staff members for their views on the campaign and ask if they have any issues or grievances they want us to bring up with management or union organisers.
“During the campaigns leading up to the first and second ballots, our ‘Vote No’ posters were taken down from the lunch room wall.
“Posters I put up just before my shift would be gone by the tea break.
“The union staff quickly got us more posters – they have been very effective in keeping us in the know and helping us put up a good fight.
“Management would come past and say, ‘You’re not allowed to persuade people how to vote’, yet they had no problem putting up ‘Vote Yes’ posters and wearing ‘Yes’ badges.”
Lucy said staff were also upset when a senior manager told them they had no choice but to accept the second offer because they would never get a better deal.
“In saying that they shot themselves in the foot because they really got people’s backs up.”