More than 800 Royal District Nursing Service nurses have suspended walk-outs in their battle for better pay and entitlements to enable conciliation talks before the industrial umpire.
Nurses held their first four-hour stop work meeting and community rally outside RDNS’ St Kilda headquarters on July 5, where they voted to shelve their second stage of industrial action.
The suspended action includes rolling four-hour work stoppages, and bans on call-outs and one in three admissions and referrals, except in cases of palliative care, oncology, children and genuine emergencies.
Negotiations between RDNS and Australian Nursing Federation Victorian branch representatives began at Fair Work Australia on July 6.
As the talks continue, RDNS nurses have reverted to stage one protected industrial action, including
bans on clerical and administrative work linked to funding, non-critical assessments and refusing deployment between RDNS centres.
The conciliation talks before Fair Work Australia could bring an end to 11 months of negotiations, which have so far failed to secure a new agreement.
RDNS nurses are demanding pay parity with public sector hospital nurses’ and midwives’ wages, along with fair workloads and better conditions.
Nurses want a 2.5 per cent per annum pay rise over the proposed four-year agreement, back-paid to March, and a $1000 professional development allowance in the first year with $900 for each of the following years.
RDNS has matched the pay rise and has offered allowances of up to $700 but both offers come with conditions.
The union is also fighting to maintain current entitlements, including sick leave and carers leave, and demanding better staffing arrangements.
RDNS is Australia’s oldest and largest provider of home nursing and health care services and has 20 centres across Victoria, providing care to about 35,000 clients.