It’s been quite the fortnight in aged care, in particular for those in the North West. While there's been a lot of back and forth around lockdowns and restrictions between the PM and state governments, we're continuing to work hard to make sure members' rights are protected.
Members may have seen in some of our previous updates that there was quite a lot of uncertainty around who exactly counts as a ‘direct’ worker when it comes to the government’s definition.
While we're still lobbying to have the payment extended to all aged care workers, we have got some clarity from the Department of Health and Minister Colbeck about who is included now.
They’ve said those who are direct workers includes those “providing clinical care, personal care, cleaning, home support activities and meal preparation, social support, shopping, community access and transport, allied health and respite.”
Leisure and lifestyle and diversional therapists who are employed directly by a residential aged care provider are included too.
Anyone working in meal prep, cleaning and allied health in home care (and employed by the aged care provider) should get it – but not if working in residential care.
Make sense? No? Not to us either. Clearly, this should apply in residential too and we’ve gone back to the minister demanding answers.
We’ll keep members updated.
It's been a scary time over the last week for those members working along the North West Coast at Eliza Purton, Coroneagh Park and Melaleuca with the news that a health care worker who'd proven positive with COVID-19 had been working across their sites, and this caused some anxiety while all residents and staff were tested then waited for the results.
The good news from Eliza Purton and Coroneagh Park was that all staff and residents who'd been tested had returned a negative result.
Unfortunately, there was some bad news for Melaleuca as one of their residents tested positive for COVID-19.
While there may be more precautions needed and upgrades to PPE, aged care workers in these sites are still, as always, focused on providing the best care to residents.
Our thoughts to all our aged care members who continue to do inspiring work throughout these difficult times.
In the south, for-profit aged care provider Menarock were offering their nurses a modest 2.5% wage increase before the pandemic outbreak, but since then they've changed their minds and are now only offering a 1.8% increase in the first year and the Fair Work increase in the second and third years.
They still plan on making more changes to reduce staff entitlements, including removing stat decs, changing the consultation and dispute, no penalty for making roster changes without any notice, reduction in personal leave for new employees and the removal of union delegates’ rights.
Worst of all they want to strip the redundancy clause to a bare minimum. Currently nurses have one of the best redundancy clauses as they receive 2 weeks’ pay for each completed year of service but Menarock want to scrap that and get rid of voluntary redundancies and redeployment.
With the massive reduction to the redundancy clause and the pitiful wage increase, HACSU members are saying NO!
In aged care, it can be challenging for organisers to meetup with members given 24-hour rosters and home care work being the norm.
Having a go-to person (like a union delegate or an activist) in the workplace helps us keep on top of what’s happening – especially now, with COVID-19 and its many issues.
The key ingredient in our union winning good outcomes at work is having good, up-to-date information.
Often, management don’t communicate with us and the only way we can know what’s going on in a workplace is if someone gets in touch with us.
These people are usually union delegates or workplace activists.
Delegate vs activist – what’s the difference?
A delegate is nominated and elected by union members at a workplace to be their representative and go-to person if there are issues at work, and they're trained by HACSU.
An activist is someone who's on top of what’s going on, but without an official role, who HACSU can contact if we need information about what’s happening. An activist might also be the kind of person who makes calls to let us know what’s going on.
Every workplace needs a union delegate or activist. If any member wants to be one, please get in touch!
Remember, members are the union, and having a go-to person in a workplace means the union is more involved and more able to help.