Members in Private Health are standing up for a better deal.
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, the cancer treatment centre in central Sydney, has a total of three different Enterprise Agreements to reflect the different classification of their workforce. Last year, Lifehouse management wrote to the HSU to inform us that anticipated funding hadn’t come through, and as a result they would no longer be able to pay the 2.5% pay increase owing to all members on 1 July 2021.
Lifehouse suggested that the Enterprise Agreement be amended and the pay increase owed be scaled down from 2.5% to 1.04%. They insinuated that redundancies would occur if employees voted against varying the Enterprise Agreement.
It's disappointing – but not surprising – when workers are asked to shoulder the burden of their employer’s financial difficulties and accept a wage cut. Nor was this the first time that Lifehouse has pulled this move.
The HSU’s position is simple. When employers are faced with financial difficulties, workers are too. While the cost of living continues to rise, their pay is stagnant. The difference is that workers are not in the position to seek to vary an Enterprise Agreement without the consent of all concerned.
The Union ran campaigns in the three affected departments – Medical Physicists; Health Professionals and Support Services; and Radiation Scientists – against voting for the alteration to the EA.
Leading the campaign in the main hospital was HSU Delegate Layla Steed, who showed great courage and determination in leading the fight. Under her guidance, many new members joined the cause and learned about their rights.
Thankfully, the variation was defeated the vote in 2 of the 3 areas – a great outcome for members. Though this meant the promised pay increase was lost in the one area, it put us in a strong position to continue to deliver better working conditions and better pay.
The campaign for improved Enterprise Agreements for members at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse continues apace. Workers deserve to be rewarded for their hard work throughout COVID and beyond. We’re going to keep pushing for adequate pay rises and allowances.