Constructive talks were held this morning with the VHIA over the Classification Review and the VHPA’s strong concerns regarding the need to maintain the role of Health Professional Chiefs in public hospital departments.
The failure to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for these vital roles has so far been the major stumbling block to the completion of the Review.
At a Fair Work Commission conciliation just before Christmas, the VHPA was successful in gaining the VHIA’s agreement to draft a replacement clause regarding the Chief Structures rather than insisting on abolishing the clause entirely.
“While retention of the clause was a step forward, the replacement clause the VHIA supplied prior to last Thursday’s 16 January deadline did not go far enough in terms of protecting the Chief Structures,” said Craig McGregor, VHPA Secretary.
“We have been prepared to consider some changes to the way in which the Agreement provides for Chief Structures, but in large departments it is important these roles are not put at risk.”
“It is disappointing the VHIA has taken a long time to adjust its position on this matter, but after today’s talks we are cautiously hopeful our concerns are finally being heard.”
“Besides needing to protect Health Professional Chiefs, we are also of the view that major changes to the Chiefs should not be the ‘trigger for the funding’ as the VHIA has previously maintained.”
“Given we have reached in-principle agreement on all the other Clause 11 issues, we want to see the benefits rolled out to Health Professionals as soon as possible,” Craig McGregor said.
Further talks are due in coming days.
Comments from members on Grade 1 HPs
Several members have queried the results of the Review in relation to HPs who find themselves ‘stuck’ at the top of Grade 1.
While the VHPA acknowledges this is a real problem, our previous research suggests the major bottleneck for members is at the top of Grade 2 and that an extra ‘year’ at the top of this grade was their most desired outcome heading into the Review.
It is also important to note that Grade 1 HPs got the largest wage increases when the Agreement was originally struck.
Although it is now too late in the Review to introduce a major change like this, the VHPA will look to address these issues when going into the next Public Sector Agreement campaign.
Pay rise delay reveals more problems in PS Agreement
A decision by the Fair Work Commission to reject the VHPA’s request for public sector HPs to get an earlier pay rise highlights the need for better drafting of key clauses in the Public Sector Health Agreement.
The VHPA mounted a vigorous argument that hospitals were required to provide the recent 1.25% pay rise from 1 October 2013.
While Fair Work Commissioner Cribb acknowledged that the VHPA’s argument ‘had merit’ she decided the public hospitals were entitled to delay the pay rise until the first full pay period commencing on or after 1 October.
The delay in passing on the increase meant many members missed out on up to a fortnight of the pay increase — that is, up to $33.75.
“This is yet another example of poor drafting from the past that has let members down,” said Craig McGregor, VHPA Secretary.
“To rectify this, along with the other serious issues confronting our members, we really need to devote more time and energy to increase our membership and improve our industrial strength in the public sector before the next round of negotiations.”