Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    Nurses' pay claim would cost more than a quarter of a billion dollars

    14/01/2005 9:00 AM

    The Australian Nursing Federation’s revised proposal for a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement would cost $253.4million and see many nurses receiving pay rises of up to 25 per cent.

    Health Minister Jim McGinty said the ANF was seeking three annual increases of five per cent, which in real terms (or compounded) totalled 15.8 per cent over three years.

    The ANF claim also contained additional ‘hidden’ wage increases including an ongoing four per cent qualification allowance, an across the board $20 a week increase for senior nurses and the creation of two extra levels for junior nurses.

    “ANF secretary Mark Olson has consistently said that nurses were more concerned about improvements in working conditions than salary increases,” Mr McGinty said.

    “The truth of the matter is that when you take into account the add-ons, most nurses would receive pay rises of between 18 and 21 per cent, with some nurses receiving up to a 25 per cent increase.”

    The Minister said he was willing to meet Mr Olson in a bid to finalise a more reasonable EBA claim from the ANF before seeking formal arbitration in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

    He said the quarter of a billion dollar cost of the ANF claim was $91million more than the cost of the package recommended by the commission last month but that was rejected by nurses in a ballot.

    “The commission considered that package was fair to nurses and reasonable and affordable for the Government,” Mr McGinty said.

    “The Government has a responsibility to taxpayers and unfortunately the ANF’s claim in its current form is beyond what is reasonable affordable.

    “The ANF’s quarter of a billion dollar pay claim is simply more than the health system can afford.”

    While the ANF had scaled down its log of claims, the union was seeking a range of increases including:
    • a five per cent per annum pay rise, which compounded totals 15.8 per cent over three years;
    • two new levels at the top of the automatic pay scale for Level One nurses, which amounts to a 20.7 per cent wage increase for more than half of Level One nurses;
    • an across-the-board increase of $20 a week for Level Two nurses and senior registered nurses. This amounts to a 17.9 per cent wage increase for all Level Two Nurses and a 17 per cent -17.5 per cent increase for senior registered nurses;
    • a weekly qualification allowance of four per cent on top of any salary increases. About 20 per cent of nurses would be entitled to this allowance. On top of the extra wage increases, some nurses would receive a 24.7 per cent salary increase;
    • an increase in night shift loading from 20 per cent to 25 per cent;
    • an extension of hours that night shift loading is paid;
    • increases to on-call allowances; and
    • provision to take up to 10 weeks’ long service leave after eight years of service.
    “The Government has been negotiating in good faith for 10 months and we want to settle the EBA to ensure Western Australian Nurses are among the best paid in the country,” Mr McGinty said.

    “We want to continue negotiations with the ANF but some of what Mr Olson is proposing is simply unsustainable.

    “It would be financially irresponsible of any Government to commit to expenditure of $253million out of the public health budget in the lead-up to an election.

    “Unless the ANF can revise its proposal into something that is fair, reasonable and affordable for Government, we will have no choice but to ask the industrial umpire to resolve the matter.”

    Minister's Office - 9220 5000