ANMF says pay negotiations with Southern Cross Care have broken down

An aged care provider with three facilities in the state’s North is facing industrial action, after pay negotiations broke down this week.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation is bargaining with Southern Cross Care, which has facilities at Glenara Lakes, Ainslie and Mount Esk, for a new enterprise agreement covering all staff.

However, Tasmanian branch secretary Neroli Ellis said the final offer removed agreed back pay, reduced conditions, and offered less than the minimum wage increase.

Southern Cross Care CEO Richard Sadek refuted the federation’s stance, saying the offer was “fair, reasonable, affordable and responsible”.

“The revised offer that we’ve put on the table has been framed against the federal government policy decision to reduce funding ... to the aged care sector,” he said.

“The salary offer of 4 per cent by the ANMF is totally unreasonable given the increase in wages across Australia on average over the last 12 months has been 1.9 per cent, so our offer of 2.5 per cent is fair, reasonable, affordable and responsible.

“Our salary offer makes our staff rate above the modern award rate.”

Ms Ellis said, despite Southern Cross Care being one of the largest aged care providers in the state, the proposed wage increase fell below the percentage increase offered by many other small employers.

“Members working at Southern Cross Care have indicated to the ANMF’s Tasmanian branch that they feel undervalued by their employer” she said. “These workers are delivering care to some of the most vulnerable in our community, but are not made to feel worthy of a decent pay rise.

“How can we attract people to work in aged care when you could get the same, if not better, pay working in a takeaway food shop? Aged care needs good workers, and good workers need decent salaries.”

A protected action ballot has been mailed out by the AEC to identify whether a majority of members wanted to take industrial action.