COLAC aged care workers went on strike yesterday, joining hundreds across the state to fight for pay increases in line with standard industry rates.
Up to 30 Mercy Place Colac nurses and carers walked out from 1pm to 3pm to protest against Mercy Health management’s final offer in pay negotiations.
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation South West Victoria industrial relations organiser Peter Birch said last week’s pay offer “still left a significant disparity in the wages” against workers at similar aged care facilities in the for-profit sector.
“It’s difficult to understand the discrepancy and it has always been the case, we are trying to bring them up to a more competitive wage position,” Mr Birch said.
“Management at Mercy haven’t come back to the table, they were quite prepared for the members to engage in industrial action,” he said.
A striking worker who wished to remain anonymous to protect her job said employees “often have to come in on days off because we are so short-staffed”.
“We have been losing staff to other care facilities that are up to speed with the pay, we just feel we are being paid unfairly,” she said.
The worker said striking was necessary “to show that we are serious”.
“The pay increase means you can afford to live and pay your bills, and means attracting staff which we can provide better care for the residents, because the residents are missing out.”
Mercy Health residential aged care executive director Voula Yankoulas said Mercy Health was disappointed with ANMF’s industrial action, but the organisation’s offer of a 12.5 per cent increase for nurses and a 14.5 per cent increase for aged care assistants “represents a genuine and reasonable offer”.
“As a not-for-profit organisation, Mercy Health is committed to attracting and retaining staff who care for people according to our values of compassion, hospitality, respect, innovation, stewardship and teamwork,” Ms Yankoulas said.
“Our offer allows us to maintain our higher staffing profile as we do not want to make any changes that would mean increasing workloads,” she said.
ANMF Victorian branch is continuing to negotiate with Mercy management for pay increases of 13.25 per cent for nurses and 15 per cent for personal care assistants over four years.
Personal care assistants ended the last agreement more than three per cent behind standard industry rates.