Wages push in aged care
The NSWNMA and other unions are seeking big minimum wage increases for aged care workers.
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has received evidence from NSWNMA members in a historic case that aims to lift award wages in aged care by 25 per cent.
Our members joined aged care workers from around Australia in providing written statements and giving evidence to the FWC.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety found that aged care work was undervalued, and recommended unions apply to the FWC to improve award wages.
As a result, the NSWNMA’s federal body, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, applied to vary the Aged Care Award and the Nurses Award.
The application seeks a 25 per cent increase in award wages of registered nurses, enrolled nurses, assistants in nursing, and personal care workers employed in aged care.
That would lift award wages by $5.16 per hour for an AIN Certificate 3 and $6.19 per hour for an EN – based on a 38-hour week.
RNs would get hourly award increases of $6.29 or $7.56, depending on classification and based on a 38-hour week.
The unions are seeking to vary the two awards for ‘work value’ reasons.
Unions argue that wages no longer reflect the nature of the work being done, the level of skill and responsibility involved, and the value of that work.
75% of workers considering leaving sector
ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said witness statements from aged care workers described their work, the challenges it involves, and the many skills they bring each day to provide safe and quality care to residents and people living at home
“Our evidence also includes statements from union officials and academic experts who explain the historical and gender-based reasons aged care work has not been properly valued,” Annie said.
In the run-up to the federal election, NSW aged care nurses and supporters campaigned in several electorates in order to focus public attention on the aged care crisis.
A group of RNs, ENs and AiNs from nursing homes across the state travelled to Canberra to meet with MPs.
Meanwhile, a survey of more than 2000 NSWNMA aged care members revealed that 75 per cent were considering leaving the sector in the next year, unless urgent aged care reforms occurred.
Unsafe workloads and low wages were the main reasons for people wanting to leave the sector.
In a radio interview, NSWNMA Acting General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said the Royal Commission “pointed out strongly that we don’t pay aged care workers highly enough for the work they do. That is why it’s so difficult to attract people to the sector.
“We are really staring down the barrel of a long-term workforce crisis if we don’t do something to improve the pay for these workers,” she said.
“We need to see the government do so much better. They need to invest in aged care, they need to pay workers appropriately, they need to invest in nurses in aged care facilities.
“The government needs to ensure that appropriate people are there to staff facilities, look after these residents and give them the life that they deserve.”
*Note: The Fair Work Commission has now completed its hearings and finished accepting submissions. A decision in the case is expected later in the year.