A recent conciliation before the Fair Work Commission over the Public Sector Reclassification Review has left the ball firmly in the court of the Victorian Hospitals Industrial Association (VHIA).

At issue is the future of ‘Chief Structures’ in amalgamated public hospitals — a crucial role that provides Health Professionals with opportunities for career progression while working to ensure the delivery of best-practice healthcare.

With the VHIA insisting the clause in the Public Sector Health Agreement regarding Chief Structures be deleted entirely, the VHPA moved to have the Fair Work Commission deal with the matter.

On 19 December the parties presented their arguments to Deputy President Hamilton in the Commission. After much toing-and-froing the VHIA agreed to proffer a replacement clause that would see the Union’s concerns taken seriously. The deadline on this wording is 16 January.

“We do not believe that there is any requirement that this clause be removed from the Agreement,” said VHPA Secretary Craig McGregor. “In fact removing this clause in its entirety without an appropriate replacement clause would have serious implications for all Health Professionals with regards to career progression, the ability to provide healthcare and in terms of clinical supervision.”

“We have sought to engage the VHIA in frank Without Prejudice discussion around this issue so as to conclude negotiations as soon as possible. We will not however agree to anything that will impact negatively on the delivery of healthcare or on the needs of our members.”

“If the VHIA’s response does not constitute a genuine attempt to address our concerns then we will be heading straight back to the Commission to have the matter arbitrated; these negotiations have gone on long enough.”

Previously agreed Review outcomes

As reported previously in HP Update, the Chief Structures in amalgamated public hospitals is the final outstanding matter of the long-awaited Public Sector Reclassification Review.

Already negotiated and agreed are a series of reforms that will deliver improved pay and career paths for public sector Health Professionals. These include:

  • An additional increment at the current top of Grade 2 for all Health Professionals covered by the VHPA.
  • New job classifications and career structures for Radiation Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Sonographers and Clinical Coders.
  • Better access to Study Leave and Time Off In Lieu for conference leave undertaken on weekends.
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) allowances from $150 to $400 a year—with the greater sum going to HPs classified at Grade 3 and above.
  • An additional 11 Clinical Educator positions to be employed at worksites across the State.

Further information

>> VHPA goes to Fair Work over Better Structures, Better Care Review
>> Better Structures Better Care: How not to negotiate an Enterprise Agreement – see p25