The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), has raised concerns that some aged care providers are trying to short-change underpaid nurses and personal care workers, by not passing-on full wage increases ordered by the Fair Work Commission (FWC).
A 15 per cent interim increase was ordered by the FWC in November 2022, with the full amount to be applied on 30 June this year. But ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said members working in aged care are reporting that some employers are rushing to lock them into new Enterprise Agreements (EA) – offering wage increases which won’t pass on the full amount of additional funding to cover wage increases.
“They’re ‘gaming’ the new Government funding model, trying to short-change underpaid nurses and care workers. That’s why the ANMF is calling on the Government to ensure there’s transparency and accountability around this new funding, so the money gets into the pockets of aged workers, not the wallets of wealthy providers,” Ms Butler said.
“There need to be rules or triggers imposed by the Government that require aged care providers to pass the additional funding on to higher wages – many employers on the ground are saying that unless they are ‘legally required’ to pass the money on they will simply use their discretion about how they spend it. It must be used for the purpose it is provided – higher wages. Otherwise, the aged care staffing crisis will not be addressed and pay rates won’t increase sufficiently to enable the attraction and retention of nursing and care staff.
“We believe it’s crucial that the Government consults with the ANMF and our members on how the funding will actually be applied, because if it’s through the usual mechanisms, it’s apparent that some providers won’t pass on the full wage increases to their workers and will simply pocket the difference.
“The Government must take a strong position now to fulfil one of its key election promises and make sure that aged care workers get the wage increases that they’re rightly entitled to and have been waiting for.”
Ms Butler said the ANMF (Victorian Branch) has filed bargaining dispute applications in the FWC, including Lifeview (four facilities) and mecwacare (14 facilities and home care). These providers won’t agree to include a clause in their proposed EAs which provides for three basic principles – transparency about the funding they receive, consultation with the ANMF when they receive it and a commitment to pass on all additional work value money provided by the Commonwealth as higher wages. These providers are not alone in saying they will not commit to passing all work value funding on to employees.
The ANMF, with over 321,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and carers in Australia.