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Victorian public hospitals face exodus of health professionals

Photo: Victorian public hospitals face exodus of health professionals
VAHPA Members at Regional Imaging Gippsland will rally at Latrobe Regional Hospital dressed in tutus this Thursday lunchtime.

The Union say they have adopted tutus to symbolise the “silly dance” employees are required to perform to get a fair deal. 

Staff at Regional Imaging Gippsland – which has the contract for imaging services at Latrobe Regional Hospital and Warragul Hospital as well as a number of private clinics – commenced industrial action on 28 August, as part of their campaign for a new Enterprise Agreement.

Gippsland residents requiring radiology services are facing disruption and possible delays as the largest provider of imaging services in the region faces escalating industrial action.

“Regional Imaging Gippsland are leading workers on a little dance; this is demeaning and silly,” said Union Official Linda Jenkin. “This company needs to understand that the people of Gippsland deserve quality clinicians like everyone else. Good clinicians will go elsewhere for wages and conditions that are respectful and fair.” Said Jenkin.
This action will escalate from Thursday 7 September following staff rejection of a second, sub-standard offer from the company.  This will include restrictions on the performance of some normal duties and include stoppages.

The company is offering a 2% pay rise for imaging staff which VAHPA, the union representing staff at Regional Imaging Gippsland, indicates is below recent bargaining outcomes and not acceptable to staff.

“Offering different pay rises to particular groups of staff in the one organisation is almost always problematic,” says VAHPA Secretary, Craig McGregor.  “If the company genuinely wanted to address pay rates for clerical staff there are fairly straightforward ways of doing this however, this was never mentioned as a priority during over four months of bargaining”.

“Instead, this company proposed a lower pay rise for imaging staff.  This will result in an effective drop in take-home pay for these staff.  Imaging staff who are not required to work shifts which attract penalties get hit twice – they don’t get the penalty shifts and they would also receive the lower pay rise,” said McGregor.

“This approach defies logic and was rightly rejected by both the Clerical and Clinical employees who don’t want to be divided in this way,” Concluded McGregor.

Regional Imaging Gippsland have responded to this feedback from staff by taking this marginally improved offer off the table and returning to their previous offer which has already been rejected by staff.

Regional Imaging Gippsland is part of I-Med Radiology Network, one of Australia’s largest private radiology companies.  Negotiations for the last Agreement covering staff at Regional Imaging Gippsland started in 2014 and concluded in early 2016.  “The negotiations took longer to complete than the Agreement had to run!” said VAHPA Lead Organiser, Linda Jenkin, “Members hoped that the company had learnt something from that experience however this doesn’t appear to be the case.”

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