Aged care workers demand fair wages and conditions

Nurses and aged care staff protest on April 4. Photo: Jacob Andrewartha

Aged care workers and nurses rallied on April 4 against an aged care centre management’s attempt to weaken conditions and offer minimal wage rises.

The Queensland Nurses and Midwifery Union (QNMU) is attempting to negotiate better wages and conditions for nurses and other care staff at the Regis Whitfield centre.

Management is only offering wage rises of 1% for staff over three years and between 2–3.5% for other sections of the workforce.

Regis Healthcare is also attacking work conditions, including trying to force nurses to work up to 20 consecutive days and no overtime for 10-hour shifts. It is also trying to insist staff can be called into work at short notice on their days off.

Regis Healthcare reported a net profit of $19.9 million last financial year.

Lead delegate Diane Power told the protest: “We have been too trusting of our employers — to our detriment. When we asked Regis Whitfield for decent wage rises for our nursing staff, we were told that there was no money in the budget.”

She described management’s wage offer an insult to the “selfless efforts of aged care workers” who keep the system going. She said residents and carers deserve better.

QNMU organiser Madeline Heathfield told Green Left that, as part of their negotiations with management, the union is demanding better care arrangements for patients including “three hours of care per resident each day” and a “registered nurse on duty 24/7”.

Heathfield  said “many of the workers at the site would struggle with the minimal wage increases given the increased cost-of-living” and, as a result, workers have had to quit and find other jobs.

Negotiations are ongoing.