The Fair Work Commission has delayed a move by the VHPA to take industrial action at several Community Health Services.
Shortly before the holiday break, the VHPA applied to the Fair Work Commission for protected industrial action so as to progress negotiations which have seen Community Health Professionals without a pay rise for more than three years.
Members at Banyule, Sunbury and Whitehorse Community Health were seeking action to encourage their management and the Victorian Hospitals Industrial Association (VHIA) to respond to their claims.
However Vice President Watson of the Fair Work Commission found that because the VHPA had been trying all avenues, including a Multi-Party Enterprise Agreement, the hurdle for taking action at individual Services had not yet been jumped.
In his decision Vice President Watson also confirmed that under the Fair Work laws, industrial action cannot be taken in support of a Multi-Party Enterprise Agreement.
While the VHPA does not agree with the Commission’s view that we have not been genuinely trying to reach agreement with individual centres, we believe the decision confirms our strategy of pursuing negotiations with individual Community Health Services.
By negotiating directly with their employer rather than the sector as a group, Community Health Professionals have a much better ability to improve their pay and conditions in a way that suits their Service and, if need be, to take industrial action in support of their claims.
The fact that protected industrial action cannot be taken in support of Multi-Party Enterprise Agreements illustrates how little power Community Health Professionals have had to influence the outcome of negotiations for the sector in the past.
“The VHPA has now written to management in all the Community Health Services that we have had negotiation meetings with, as well as the VHIA, to request a second round of negotiations,” said Grant Forsyth, VHPA Organiser.
“We have requested the VHIA allow for meetings at four Services a week so that we can progress negotiations as quickly as possible. We will also be contacting the Services that we have yet to meet with to arrange meetings as soon as possible.”
“Thanks to all those Community Health members who participated in our recent industrial action survey.”
“We had an overwhelming response and it is clear that if and when we need to take action in the coming months the vast majority of members are willing to take part.”
“Knowing this means we now have a much stronger position at the bargaining table,” said Grant Forsyth.