Public sector newsletter

Posted on
May 13, 2020
Public Sector

Fortnightly union update

While we have had some real success in provisions for special pandemic leave, we continue to fight for consistent and accessible access to PPE and training, we continue to struggle to understand some of the decisions relating to individuals and their personal circumstances, we continue to get reports from members of decisions that seem inconsistent with the broader strategy and we continue to be met with silence at the highest levels of the state service.

In spite of continued assurances by the Minister for Health and DHS HR and senior bureaucrats across the department and our hospitals that it would happen, communications with members and unions have been appalling - they've been piecemeal, delayed and often confusing.

Some weeks ago the department agreed to hold fortnightly meetings with unions and to share information with us as it was being developed or shared with employees so we could provide advice to workers when they asked, but none of these things have been done. We offered to help, they ignored that offer.

This only motivates us to do more than ever to ensure workers are supported and represented.

Without members and their commitment, it’s unimaginable to think what the situation might be. HACSU is working hard to ensure all health and community workers have a safe workplace, even during this global pandemic, and we’re committed to ensuring advice is applied and heeded consistently and we’re committed to ensuring the real heroes aren’t forgotten through any of this.

We thank all our members for the sacrifices they continue to make and the risks they continue to take to care for us all - we think they're amazing - and it’s clear that when the chips are down they are the people we can rely on.

Health and community services workers are the real MVPs and we’re proud to represent them - be strong, take care and stay safe.


COVID-19 and workplace safety

Many members are contacting us about workplace health and safety and the government’s pandemic advice - in simple terms, the employer must identify and control any risk and must consult with members and their union when doing that.

There should be advice available to staff about the following:

•  PPE protocols and procedures, including adequate training

•  Procedures for visiting people in quarantine, especially those in hotels

•  Transporting patients in community vehicles

•  The availability of hand sanitiser and wash stations

•  Additional emotional and psychological supports for workers

•  Extra safety measures for workers who attend other health facilities as part of their work

Expert advice must be heeded, and what happens in a work area depends on the job, but the bottom line is there should be additional safeguards to protect staff from transmission of the virus no matter what workplace they're in, and measures in place to make sure workers are coping with the extra stress of this situation.


Pay rises are here

Payroll have confirmed that increases to salary rates and certain other conditions have now been applied and should be apparent in members' pay.

For those covered by the Health & Human Service Award or the AHP agreement the following back payments associated with the revised awards and agreements will be paid:

•  Workers covered by the Health and Human Services Award (except Allied Health Professionals and Dental Officers) paid in this week’s pay (6 May 2020)

•  Employees covered by the AHP Agreement and Dental Officers paid in the following pay (20 May 2020)

Members employed as nurses and midwives will receive increases and back pay soon. The agreements covering them are with the Tasmanian Industrial Commission and should be approved shortly.  


COVID-19 and leave entitlements

Many members are trying their best to cope with the stress of being an essential worker, working from home, childcare and home based learning commitments - the juggle is real and not necessarily going well for everyone.

Nobody needs need the harsh and inconsistent advice previously received, in particular the use of personal leave and when it can be used - a blanket prohibition on personal leave is not correct and is a breach of the relevant awards and agreements.

Using personal leave simply because someone made a choice to keep their children at home isn’t covered by the arrangements, but they still have a right to claim personal leave to provide care or support to a member of their immediate family or household who is ill or injured or due to an unexpected emergency.

The inability to find alternative care arrangements for children outside school hours is just one of many examples.

HACSU stands by our previous advice to members about personal leave entitlements and workers’ rights relating to COVID-19.

If any member has concerns about any advice they get in the workplace, particularly if it contradicts advice from public health officials, please contact us.


Returning to work after quarantine

It’s a trying time for everyone as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, with HACSU working hard to address all the issues as they come up, and one concern that many members in the north west are contacting us about is returning to work after quarantine.

At this stage the NWRH continues to be reopened in a staged fashion with not all areas yet fully operational.

It’s difficult because most quarantine periods are based on when someone was last at work, or in contact with a particular person, and it’s even more challenging with the ever-changing response to the pandemic.

We’ve written to the department secretary to ensure workers aren't forgotten through this extraordinary phase and we expect that supervisors and managers will be keeping in contact to make sure staff are coping as best they can and to discuss returning to work.

At this stage, nobody should return until they've talked with their manager, or are directed to return, and if anyone has finished or is nearing the end of their quarantine period and hasn’t been contacted they should contact their manager.


HACSU supports you

Thanks to all our members for their amazing work during this unprecedented and rapidly changing environment.

Feel free to contact HACSUassist between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday regardless of how small an issue might seem.

Please take care.

For more information about this or any other industrial matter, members should contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email or complete our online contact form

Public Sector