Community Health Centre Members have voted to endorse a settlement for a new sector wide Agreement. A mass meeting at Trades Hall on Tuesday 9 December voted unanimously to endorse the recommendation of the Union and Delegates to accept the in-principle agreement.

The result represents a significant victory for Members after a prolonged and hard-fought campaign. The previous Agreement covering the Centres expired in June 2011 prior to the election of the current branch leadership team at the end of 2012.

Throughout the campaign, threats from Centres to refuse to pay mounting back pay presented a significant challenge. Despite this members voted down multiple attempts by employers to push through an inferior Agreement.

Following the commencement of industrial action at a number of Centres and our pre-election Community Health rally at parliament, negotiations began to make progress. An intensive process over the past six weeks has produced the current in-principle Agreement.

“This Agreement represents a substantial improvement on the current Agreement both in terms of wages and conditions,” said VHPA Secretary, Craig McGregor.

The proposed Agreement will deliver back pay in full from January 2012, extra increases at the top of all Grades (1, 2 and 3) plus an additional pay increase of 1.25% in April 2016.

The new increases at the top of the Grades will result in:

  • A new Grade 2 Year 5 increment from 1 January 2015, $20 a week above the Grade 2, Year 4 increment.
  • $17.50 a week increase to the Grade 1, Year 7 increment on 1 July 2015.
  • $17.50 a week increase to the Grade 3, Year 4 increment on 1 July 2015.
  • Grade 2, Year 1 bypass on 1 April 2014 – this means Employees moving into Grade 2 will now start at Grade 2, Year 2.

Other key benefits achieved in the settlement include:

  • A guaranteed Professional Development Allowance of between $150 and $400 per annum (depending on Grade).
  • Superannuation to be paid on all Employer provided parental leave.
  • No reduction in redundancy pay for an Employee with at least 10 years service – it will be 16 weeks pay (previously was 12 weeks).
  • An entitlement to take long service leave after 10 years of service
  • Time off in lieu to accrue at overtime rates
  • Time off in lieu at ordinary time for attending approved conferences/seminars on days an Employee is not rostered to work (eg. Weekends)
  • Significantly improved clause concerning consultation about workplace change
  • Removal of Consent Arbitration; Fair Work Commission can arbitrate a dispute without the need for your Employer to agree to it

Importantly this package has been reached without any trade-off of existing condition or entitlements.

The proposed Agreement is set to expire in June 2016 bringing the date closer to the Agreement covering Dieticians in Community Health (HSU Branch 4) and providing some distance from the Public Sector Agreement, which expires December 2015.

“This independent expiry date was crucial,” said Craig McGregor. “We inherited a Community Health sector that had been cut of from the Public Sector and then left behind.  A common expiry date with the Public Sector Agreement would have risked that happening again.  An independent expiry date was been fought for since the very start of these negotiations and it’s great to have achieved that.”

We are attempting to have the Agreement document finalised as soon as possible in order for the voting process at Centers to begin.

“This victory by our Community Health Members is significant both for this sector and for other sectors. It shows that a determined, unified and coordinated group of Members can achieve improvements and can – in the face of considerable opposition – win!” concluded McGregor.