Health workers endorse pay claim
By Kim Linden
MELBOURNE — Around 2000 members of the Health Services Union of Australia (HSUA) voted on August 17 to endorse an 8% pay claim which allows a possible further 3% to be claimed under a safety net.
The claim was won by public sector health workers (including cleaners, food services staff and porters) after a strong industrial campaign which involved the majority of Melbourne's major and regional hospitals.
Victorian HSUA secretary Jan Armstrong told workers that the "dare to struggle and dare to win" campaign had secured the pay claim, the highest achieved in the public sector under Kennett. Armstrong said that once members receive their first increases, the union will launch the next log of claims, including guarantees of job security, minimum standards for hospital services, secure staffing levels and access to training.
Armstrong indicated that the union would no longer be pushing a claim against the contracting out of hospital services such as cleaning, food preparation and laundry.
Workers in other health sectors are also beginning to campaign for wage increases. The Australian Nursing Federation has been trying for an 8% wage rise since early this year. Stalled negotiations between the state government and the ANF have now resumed, but the ANF has said it may take industrial action on August 21.
Members of the Health Maintenance Union, which includes plumbers, electrical and construction staff at hospitals, will soon hold a stop-work meeting to consider lodging an 8% wage claim. Members of the HSUA in the private sector, which cover nursing homes and private hospitals, are still fighting for an 11% claim.