HWU MEMBERS NEWS BULLETIN 23 AUGUST 2021

 

PUBLIC SECTOR AGREEMENT UPDATE

Our public sector HWU members have been extremely patient waiting for the government to sign off on their next workplace Agreement. 
 
The good news is that there has been some progress over the last fortnight. The HWU understands the funding imbroglio between the Department of Treasury and the Department of Health is close to being resolved. 
 
The bad news is that the Victorian Government is yet to provide a date on which the Agreement can be signed off. Any Agreement will need to be passed by the Victorian Government’s Expenditure Review Committee. A date needs to be set for this Committee to meet and approve your Agreement.
 
The HWU has made numerous representations to the Victorian Government since members were last updated. Whilst things are progressing in the right direction, our patience, however, is wearing thin. 
 
We have advised the Victorian Government of a deadline of midday this Friday, 27 August, to provide the HWU with a formal government response to the Agreement. If this deadline is not met, the HWU reserves its right to apply for a Protected Industrial Action Ballot. 
 
The HWU will survey our public sector members this week to determine what actions they would be prepared to undertake should a Protected Industrial Action Ballot be required. Protected action can include many different forms, such as:
 
  • Provide patients, their families and the community with written campaign material during working hours;
  • Speaking to patients, families and the community about your Agreement;
  • Wearing campaign slogans or badges during work hours;
  • Refuse to do additional hours beyond ordinary rostered hours, or 
  • Engage in stop work bans for a period from 2 hours and up to 24 hours (providing the HWU give the employer 7 days’ notice).
 
The clock is now ticking for the Victorian Government to pull its finger out and meet Friday’s deadline - so that an Agreement can be approved and approximately 55,000 Victorian public hospital workers can receive their long overdue pay rise.  
 
We are hopeful that this can be achieved and that protected industrial action can be avoided.
 

NSW TO MAKE VACCINATIONS MANDATORY FOR ALL HEALTH WORKERS

On Friday, the NSW Government indicated that it will require all health workers – not just aged care workers – to require a first dose of covid vaccine by September 30 (and their second dose by November 30). All NSW health workers will be required to give evidence of their vaccination status to their employer. However, they will be able to seek an exemption if they lodge a certified medical reason by September 16. 
 
As yet, the Victorian Government has given no clear indication on whether it will follow the NSW proposal and make covid vaccinations mandatory for all Victorian health workers. The HWU is aware of some public sector and pathology employers already asking their employees to do so. This follows advice last week from the Fair Work Ombudsman which has set out a tiered system for employers determining when to make vaccines mandatory for employees. Prime Minister Scott Morrison also cleared the way for employers to direct staff to be vaccinated, citing advice from the Solicitor General that it be lawful to do so where such a direction is “reasonable”.
 
As our HWU aged care members know, after a decision by National Cabinet, it will be mandatory for all residential aged care workers to have received a minimum first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 17 September 2021. The Health Workers Union encourages all aged care workers to get vaccinated against COVID19, however, we do not support mandatory vaccination. We have made this clear to the Commonwealth Government. 
 
A significant proportion of aged care workers do not want to get vaccinated, primarily due to personal health concerns. In a recent HWU survey, hundreds of our aged care members indicated that they will leave the industry altogether if they are forced to get vaccinated. The industry is already short-staffed and stretched as it is. Mandatory vaccination could have dire, ableit unintended, consequences.  As it stands, the National Cabinet has mandated that all aged care workers be vaccinated by 17 September 2021. 
 
Please note that the Health Workers Union is here to represent ALL our members - including those that support mandatory vaccinations, and those that have concerns about being vaccinated. We will always fight for our members collective and individual rights. 
 

HWU ADMIN MEMBERS BIG $30,000 BACKPAY WIN

The Health Workers Union was recently contacted by an admin member working at a public hospital in Melbourne’s Southeast with concerns about her classification. 
 
The member was concerned that her and her fellow HWU members were wrongly classified as HS1A, not HS1. The classifications command different grades of pay.
 
The HWU made further enquiries about our member’s role and confirmed the classification error with her employer – and not just for her, but for 4 fellow HWU members working at the same facility. 
The employer error meant our 5 HWU members were being paid incorrectly from October 2017. A backpay totalling over $30,000 was recently paid to these 5 members. That’s over $6000 on average to each of them!
 
A core business of the union is to ensure our members are paid correctly. We can easily check your classification and level of pay (and other entitlements) in your Enterprise Agreement or relevant Award. 
 
If you believe you are not being paid or classified correctly, please contact the HWU on (03) 9341 3300. It’s always better to be sure. If we identify a mistake by your employer, we can fight on your behalf to ensure you receive what you are legally owed.
 

AGED CARE SINGLE SITE WORKING ARRANGEMENTS EXTENED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 4 (NOW FOR ALL OF VICTORIA)

The Federal Government has just extended its funding for aged care single-site workforce arrangements until 4 September, 2021.
 
This funding means if you are working across multiple aged care workplaces, your primary employer can apply for Federal Government funding to ensure you are paid for lost hours at your second facility. 
 
This funding is now available for ALL Victoria aged care workers, not just those in specific Local Government Areas.
 
Aged care providers are asked to adjust their rosters to ensure staff are only working at one residential aged care facility within this region during this period. Workers are encouraged to speak with their primary employer and look to work all shifts during this period with the residential aged care provider where they were working the most hours prior to the outbreak.
 
To the greatest extent possible, the employer should seek to match any hours no longer being worked with a secondary employer to ensure the worker is not financially disadvantaged. 
In the first instance, please have a direct conversation with your primary employer if you are affected by this current single-site arrangement.  If you are eligible for funding and your employer refuses to make and application on your behalf, contact the HWU immediately on (03) 9341 3300.
 

DISABILITY AND AGED CARE VACCINATION BLITZ

The Victorian Government has just announced an aged care and disability workforce blitz to allow Victorians working in high-risk settings to get vaccinated with ease. 
 
Residential aged care workers and residential disability care workers will be provided with priority access to COVID-19 vaccination through all Victorian vaccination clinics from today, Monday 23 August, until Sunday 29 August 2021.
 
Key points: 
  • All workers in residential aged care and disability care settings are eligible, including staff, paid and unpaid carers and volunteers. 
  • People attending sites infrequently such as management, therapists/practitioners, advocates and maintenance workers are all eligible.
  • Priority access at vaccination centres will be available by active queue management, however it is recommended workers book a priority appointment by calling 1800 675 398.
 

PAID VACCINATION LEAVE ANNOUNCED FOR PUBLIC HEALTH WORKERS

The Victorian Government is offering public sector workers paid time off to make it as easy as possible for them to get the jab.
 
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley announced on Sunday that public sector employees can now access up to half a day’s paid time off to get each dose of the vaccine, and the Government hopes the move encourages other employers to consider similar incentives.
 
This is part of Victoria’s drive to administer 1 million doses of the vaccine in five weeks from 16 August. 
 
The new arrangements apply to full-time and part-time staff and long-term and regular casuals at departments and administrative offices, statutory authorities, government schools, TAFE institutes, police and emergency services, water and land management authorities and other public entities.
 
The paid time off to get vaccinated applies in addition to accrued sick leave, which can be used if people experience adverse side effects. The program is subject to the usual operational requirements for taking time off. 
 
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has said that too many employers are not allowing workers to take the necessary time off to get the job. Those at the greatest risk include casuals and low paid essential workers. The ACTU has launched an online petition for universal paid vaccination leave for all Australian workers. To sign the petition, go to https://www.megaphone.org.au/petitions/paid-vaccination-leave-for-all-workers. 
 
Casual residentla aged care workers are eligible to receive, via their employer, $80 per dose for offsite vaccination and a day of paid leave, ($185) if unwell after vaccination and have not pther leave entitlements. If you require further info, pleae call the HWU on (03) 9341 3300.
 

PLEASE UPDATE YOUR CONTACT DETAILS

If any of your contact or members details have changed – such as, mobile number, home number, address, personal email, classification, hours, or workplace – please notify the Health Workers Union by going to  https://www.hwu.org.au/get-involved/update-union-membership or clicking on the ‘UPDATE YOUR INFO” tab below. 
 
Ensuring we have your latest makes it easier for the union to communicate important news and information with you. All info provided is confidential and accords with the HWU’s strict privacy policy. 
 
With respect to emails, please provide the HWU with your preferred personal email (and not your work email), to avoid correspondence going through workplace servers. 
 
If you have any questions, or require the union’s assistance in any way, please call the HWU on (03) 9341 3300, 8.30am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. For urgent matter after business hours, please email info@hwu.org.au.