In the last round of public sector Enterprise Agreement negotiations, the Union and the Department of Health struck a deal that would see $15-million worth of improvements to wages & conditions go to employees.

Over the past year or so the VHPA, the HWU and the Department of Health have negotiated a package that sees this money allocated in various ways. For details on the package see the summary of key changes document and the proposed agreement—your employer is compelled to provide you with access to these documents.

You now have the opportunity to vote on accepting or rejecting the negotiated package.

Why is there a ballot?
The negotiated changes and consequent benefits to employees are not activated until the wording in the Enterprise Agreement is formally varied. An Enterprise Agreement cannot be varied unless employees are in favour of the variation. The ballot is the mechanism by which members are able to express their views on the matter.

Who gets to vote in this ballot?
All employees affected by the variation are entitled to vote in the ballot. Affected employees are those covered by the Victorian Public Health Sector (Health Professionals, Health and Allied Services, Managers & Administrative Officers) Multiple Enterprise Agreement 2011-2015 and who are impacted on by the proposed variation.

Do I have to vote?
Voting is voluntary; however the variation will not get up unless a majority of affected employees who cast a valid vote do so in the affirmative.

Is this the new Public Sector Agreement?
No, your Agreement still expires on 31 December 2015. This is only an amendment – albeit a fairly significant one – to the current Agreement.

Why is the annual CPD payment higher for Grade 3s?
We have worked hard to see all Health Professionals benefit from the package. We have also done all we can to see the money allocated equitably. As you may recall, the original Agreement saw employees at Grade 1 receive better wage increases than employees at other increments. Further, those employed at Grade 2 will benefit from a new increment at Grade 2 Year 5—those at Gr2 Yr4 will move up and receive an extra $1053 p.a. It is reasonable then for employees at Grade 3 to receive a higher annual CPD payment.

Is this related to the Union Elections?
No, the timing is entirely coincidental.
Having said that, elections are proceeding in Branch 1 (HWU) and Branch 2 (HACSU). Elections in Branch 3 (VHPA) and Branch 4 (MSAV) are now concluded—both teams were re-elected unopposed.

I haven’t received any information from my Employer?
Your employer is legally bound to provide you with access to the new Agreement. They have also agreed to provide a summary of key changes and details of the ballot process.

How this is being done is different for each employer – some have emailed every staff Member, some have made these documents available in a public space, some have placed them on the intranet. If you have not seen these materials yet, contact your HR department ASAP.

I haven’t received details of how to vote yet
Contact your HR department ASAP.  The ballot is going to be conducted by phone—your employer will provide with a unique and secure login/password combination to ensure the integrity of the vote.

When is the ballot?
The ballot will open today, August 11, and remain open for 10 days.  If your vote is not registered within this period it will not be counted.

Is there any back-pay?
Yes. The VHPA and the Department reached in principle agreement on the variation on 19 March this year. All applicable increases apply from this point on.

How should I vote?
How you vote is a matter for you. However, the VHPA is encouraging ALL staff to vote YES. The benefits of this package will only roll out once the variation is voted up.