Qld nurses, Govt begin arbitration

News

Qld nurses, Govt begin arbitration

A full bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission today began hearings in Brisbane to arbitrate a settlement between Queensland public sector nurses and the Department of Health.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

 

A full bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission today began hearings in Brisbane to arbitrate a settlement between Queensland public sector nurses and the Department of Health.

The case moved to arbitration in July after bitter disputes, when the AIRC terminated the bargaining period after mediation by Commissioner Ken Bacon failed (see 179 and 183/2002). The Government dropped a planned secret ballot over its offer of between 3.5% and 4.75% a year for nurses depending on level. The Queensland Nurses' Union is seeking 6% a year regardless of level, plus a 6% over two years 'recruitment package'.

Like the NSW Government, whose nurses are currently taking an extra 15% pay claim to that state's IRC, the Beattie Government has pledged to abide by the umpire's decision.

Some 30,000 other workers in the public health sector, covered by state agreements, also took industrial action, but last month voted up a deal giving them pay rises of 3.5% a year for three years, plus extra benefits.

The bench, led by Senior Deputy President Justice Paul Munro, last week ruled that it was able, under s170MX of the Workplace Relations Act, to make an interim award as claimed by the nurses if it so chose. Despite employer concerns, the bench said that an interim award was valuable 'as a step along the way towards attempting to finally settle the dispute or matter'.

Four days of hearing have been set aside for the arbitration - today and tomorrow, and next Thursday and Friday. The first witness, QNU industrial officer Mark Dougherty, has just been sworn in and will start giving evidence after lunch.

Meanwhile, Victorian health workers have agreed in principle to an enterprise agreement which will deliver pay rises of between $27 and $117 a week. The deal covers 20,000 support workers in the public hospital system. The Bracks Government has also committed to an extra 5% in staffing numbers, and workers will be able to have input via committee as to where those staff go.

 

Post details