64 days of protected industrial action: Darebin City Council MCH health nurses to hold second stop work community rally

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch)

Stop work community rally Friday 21 July, 10am – 12 noon, Novotel Melbourne Preston, Courtyard 4, 215 Bell Street, Preston

Darebin City Council’s maternal and child health and immunisation nurses will hold a second stop work community rally on Friday 21 July 2023 at the Novotel Melbourne Preston.

Almost 40 ANMF members have been taking protected industrial action for 64 days as part of their campaign for a fair pay rise and improved working conditions.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) Acting Secretary Paul Gilbert said: ‘Maternal and child health and immunisation nurses are seeking very reasonable claims for improved pay and conditions, and they’re devastated Darebin City Council is not trying to resolve this dispute.

‘Nurses only take protected industrial action as a last resort to send a strong message to their employer that enough is enough,’ he said.

‘We’re urging the Council to make a reasonable investment in its existing maternal and child health nursing workforce so their service can retain nurses in this difficult employment environment and recruit new nurses.’

Bans include wearing red campaign t-shirts, stopping work to explain their dispute to new parents and members of the community, refusing to attend meetings with the council’s chief executive officer Peter Smith, refusing to complete annual review paperwork, refusing to work overtime, limiting reading and responding to management emails and referring general inquiries to the 24-hour maternal and child health nurse telephone line.

The action also limits the number of maternal and child health appointments to six per day, excluding the enhanced program for vulnerable families.

‘We apologise to new parents for the disruptions this action is causing and while it may cause inconvenience at no point will parents or their children’s health or wellbeing be at risk,’ Mr Gilbert said.

Enterprise bargaining negotiations between the ANMF (Vic Branch) and Darebin City Council began in September 2022. Talks reached a stalemate after the last meeting on 16 May. The Fair Work Commission is now assisting the parties work towards a resolution.

The nurses are seeking a three-year agreement with improved entitlements, including improved education access, that allowances be increased annually in line with wage increases, two 10-minute tea breaks and a three per cent pay rise or $45 per week increase (whichever is greater) from 1 July 2022, 3.5 per cent increase or $45 per week (whichever is greater) from 1 July 2023 and 3.2 per cent increase or $45 per week from 1 July 2024.

ANMF members voted to reject the council’s position, which fails to improve on the two per cent increase or $30 a week (whichever is greater) already paid administratively from July 2022, three per cent or $45 a week (whichever is greater) from July 2023 and the higher of either two per cent or 85 per cent of the 1 July 2024 unknown rate cap or $35 a week, or $15 on each percentage of the rate cap (whichever is greater).

The council has withdrawn an earlier agreement to their gender equity claim – superannuation on unpaid parental leave and have not agreed to five days paid professional development leave.

The nurses are encouraging new parents and the community to support the campaign by emailing Darebin City Council CEO Peter Smith.

About us:

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) has more than 99,000 members – nurses, midwives and aged care personal care workers – across the Victorian health and aged care sectors.

/Public Release.