HWU Public Sector Members Update July 2021

HWU PUBLIC SECTOR MEMBERS UPDATE JULY 2021

 

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT CAUSING DELAYS TO YOUR EBA


The HWU wishes to express our thanks to the great patience shown from our HWU members about their next public sector Agreement.


Negotiations for your next Agreement began last year and were finalised in March 2021. 

These negotiations were between the Health Workers Union (HWU) and the Victorian Hospital Industry Association (VHIA). These negotiations were also overseen by the Victorian Department of Health. Since then, the HWU and VHIA have been waiting for a formal government response.

Once the Victorian Government (who fund the costs outlined in the Agreement) give the green light, the negotiating parties can sign what is called a ‘Heads of Agreement’ document. From there, all affected employees get to have their say via a vote on the proposed Agreement.

If that vote of employees is successful, the Agreement is then ratified by the Fair Work Commission and your pay rise and back pay will begin to flow through to you. 


The draft Agreement presented to the Victorian Government is in line with their wages policy. Additional incremental increases to classifications is also in line with ‘Pillar 3’ of the government’s wages policy. There should be no delay in receiving a government response to sign off on the Agreement. It is nearly August, and the Victorian Government has been sitting on this since March.

 

GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS RESPONSIBLE FOR DELAY


After numerous representations to the Victorian Government, the HWU has been able to identify the source of the delay. As outlined in our letter to the Victorian Heath Minister, Martin Foley, (see below) it appears the Department of Treasury and the Department of Health are engaged in infighting about who will foot the bill for the ‘Pillar 3’ incremental increases. 

These two Government Departments are effectively arguing about who takes what slice from the same pie. It is an absurd course of events. Unfortunately, this bureaucratic argy-bargy is delaying the process and your next pay rise. 


The Health Workers Union is working hard to try and resolve this issue as quickly as possible and we continue to lobby the highest levels of the Victorian Government for an immediate outcome. 


Thank you to all public sector HWU members for your patience. The HWU is just as frustrated as you are. The Agreement presented is a good one and we are hopeful for positive news in the very near future. 

 

LETTER SENT TO VICTORIAN HEALTH MINISTER

16 July 2021

Mr Martin Foley
Minister for Health
Level 22, Lonsdale Street
Melbourne 3000

Re: Victorian Government Ignoring Frontline Health Workers on EBA

Dear Minister,

An urgent matter pertaining to your portfolio that requires your immediate action is the public sector Agreement. I remind you that without Victoria’s frontline public hospital workers, the Victorian health system comes to a grinding halt. These same workers are currently being ignored by your government.

As you know, the Health Workers Union and the Victorian Hospital Industry Association (VHIA) discussions in early 2020 with respect to the next public sector Agreement. This Agreement, which covers approximately 55,000 Victorian public hospital workers, had an expiry date of 1 October 2020. 

Negotiations were productive. The HWU and VHIA worked within the parameters of the government’s wages policy, including its ‘Pillar 3’. Your Department of Health officials were constantly present during negotiations. We were able to work constructively through every clause in the Agreement.

A final document was submitted in March 2021 for a government response. It is now nearing August 2021, and still, public hospital health workers await a response. This is completely unacceptable.

The HWU has tried, repeatedly, to get answers. Your Ministerial staff have been diligent and professional in assisting us with our representations. 

As best we can understand, the public sector Agreement is now being stonewalled by ‘work from home’ bureaucrats - most likely too busy counting their pennies from their own recent pay rise to worry about the 55,000 public hospital workers that haven’t had a pay rise since 1 October, 2019.

The Agreement sits somewhere in the abyss between the Department of Treasury and the Department of Health.  Our understanding is that Treasury have asked the Department of Health to fund Pillar 3 increases. Again, I reiterate, the agreement presented for government response, falls within the parameters of government wages policy. We know it does - your Department oversaw negotiations!

The Victorian Government is arguing with itself about which slice to take from the same pie. This absurd argy-bargy between the Departments is causing unacceptable delay for Victoria’s public hospital workforce. Your government is quick to call health workers ‘heroes’ in media conferences, yet is seemingly prepared to drag its feet when it’s time to giving them a pay rise.

Your immediate action is required. I ask that you personally lobby Premier Andrews and Treasurer Pallas to approve the Agreement without delay. The Victorian Government must immediately set an ERC date so that committee members can approve this Agreement and workers can receive their long overdue pay rise. 

Get it done Minister. Don’t leave it to others. Over 55,000 Victorian health workers are relying on you.

Yours sincerely,
 
Diana Asmar
Secretary, Health Workers Union

 

PFIZER NOW AVAILABLE TO ALL VICTORIAN HEALTH WORKERS


All Victorian workers, irrespective of age, are now eligible to be offered the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as the available supply increases.
 
Workers can also choose to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. 
  
To make a vaccination appointment, speak to your GP, or call the Coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.
 
You can confirm your eligibility by providing the following documents: 
• proof of identity (e.g. driver’s license, passport, birth certificate)
• proof of employment (eg. current work ID card) 
• letter from employer or payslip confirming your current employment, and
• Medicare card if you have one.

 

RESUMPTION OF HWU WORKPLACE DELEGATE TRAINING


HWU Workplace Delegates are advised that we’ll soon be asking you for expressions of interest to participate in Workplace Delegate Training. Over 300 HWU Workplace Delegates have previously participated in this two-day accredited course. Delegates that have previously participated in the original course are asked to express their interest in our HWU Advanced Delegate Training Course. 


Public Sector participants are paid to attend this two-day course, pursuant to the public sector Agreement. Participants are not required to take any personal or annual leave to attend training. Your pay will not be affected in any way by attending.


If your worksite or hospital department (i.e. kitchen) does not have a HWU Workplace Delegate and you are interested in becoming a Delegate and participating in training, please email the HWU on (03) 9341 3300 or email info@hwu.org.au and we can send you information about what the role entails. 

 

CONTACT THE HWU FOR ASSISTANCE


The HWU recognises that Victorian health workers are fatigued by COVID19. We are constantly reminding the Victorian Government of how hard you work and how dedicated you are. Thank you for being on the frontline and keeping the health industry going during this difficult time.
 
If you have any workplace issues or questions, please call the HWU on (03) 9341 3300 during business hours, 8.30am to 5.00PM, Monday to Friday. 
 
Please note that on Monday, 26 July, from 12.30pm to 1.30pm the HWU will be updating our phone and IT systems. There will be an outage of our telecommunications during this period. If your matter is urgent, please email info@hwu.org.au, stating your name, membership number and workplace issue.