I am a Pool RN and a big part of my role is accumulating and distributing hospital gossip faster than VRE in a shit storm. Word on the wards is that we, The Nurses, are to start industrial action (or striking if you listen to some) in a couple of weeks (dates vary depending on who you ask) in order to force the government or the managers or Harold Holt or something to stop annoying us, Transforming Health, EPAS and violence towards staff. Plus, we want adequate penalty pay, a washing up fairy and for everyone to get a go on the hospital helicopter every now and again.
I went to my first Union meeting today and am feeling just a little bit smug because I went and you didn’t. The facts I picked up in the meeting are way less sexy and palatable than lovely juicy hopes that are being bandied around the staff rooms. Code of conduct prohibits me from spreading hospital gossip. So unaccustomed as I am, I shall be serving up the facts as I understand them in a less impenetrable format than the crunchy booklet ‘’stand up, stand together’’ does.
Before we begin, let us all remember ‘’Union speak’’ and ‘’Fact’’ are entirely new genres for me. Go to https://www.anmfsa.org.au/events-campaigns/public-sector-enterprise-bargaining/ to get the raw materials and times and dates of meetings specific to your work places.
Why are we industrial actioning? I copied and pasted the grey bits from the ANMF website. I am pretty sure they started of a vibrant fiery red in Nurses hearts and then slowly the life got sucked out of them as they went through meeting after bargaining and translation after watering down into plain speak and turned themselves grey. The SA Government have had their chances to reach an agreement on the grey bits. In maternal terms (which I think we all understand) we spoke to them with a reasonable request, they didn’t listen. The union have tried to taking away their Xbox, the PS4 and the internet, still no response. Now they need our help to drive the message home by messing with the power, the electric, the Nurses.
The Grey bits are what the Union want you to know. The red bits are what I understand of it. . The grey bits are bold, the red bits are also not red, but italic – because I can work dialysis and ventilators- yet I have no idea how to make my blog text change colour.
- Equitable staffing for aged care services in Country Health. In Rural areas of SA our lovely old people are getting a poor deal and our Nurses are getting flogged something silly because there are no agreements as to Nurse/lovely old people ratios. I’m sure that no employer would take advantage of this but the union are fighting to get clarification just in case.
- Restoration of Level 3 and Level 4 conditions. Level 3 and 4 staff don’t get paid if they are on call or do floor work. They want more money. To be honest, I am struggling to identify with this one. (OMG stop it. Worker bees are thinking really bad things right now. Reel you neck in or you could start a civil war.) I suppose it very much depends on what kind of level 3 or 4 person you deal with. Also, are the level 3s/4s you deal with actively blocking this action or standing together.
- Increases in Professional Development allowance. More money for personal development, for everyone. This is a good one I reckon. It used to be a nurse could get by on a strong back and a strong stomach. Now you need a PHD to give out Mylanta. Some young go getters virtually pay to nurse.
- Shared benefits from any productivity and efficiency improvements. Nurses make up a huge chunck of the hospital staff and are influential in helping with all the cost cutting measures introduced. Anyone who has seen a nurse perusing ALDI catalogs on a night shift while eating ‘’reduced to clear’’ Hummus knows that we are the ‘’Mag Daddys’’ of saving a buck. We love it and the hospital hierarchy utilise this. The union reckon we should get some of the money we save them back. No idea how that is going to work.
- Agreed terms for TVSPs. No bloody Idea what this one is, something to do with redundancy packages. I am not sure how you are meant to get redundancy into the acronym TVSP. The plain speak team must have been industrial actioning the day that bit was written. TV, in medical terms, usually ends up as a massive bloodbath that requires a lot of unpacking.
How to action in an industrial fashion.
Well, we don’t know how yet because we haven’t decided. Read your bulletins for when your meeting to decide how best to do ”this”. ‘’This’’ being cause the hospital communities and powers that be the most havoc, while keeping patients safe.
They told me a proposed start date in the meeting today, but I wrote it on my hand and then washed my hands a lot because…. derr…nursing. If you go to your meeting, probably this week, you get a list of duties we can suspend and things we can do to get behind each other.
Your boss has to let you go, but you have to use your own time, this can be lunch break. Names of who is asking to go to meetings are being taken some bosses. This is not allowed by the union and you don’t have to tell boss where you are going if they ask. ( OOOoooo, I sound very Uniony now.)
What is the point/ not sure it’s for me/ I might get bollocked off my boss and never get promoted?
The point is there are more of us than them, we could be incredibly strong if we backed each other. I used to be a UK nurse, we weren’t strong there and the system is collapsing. UK Nurse patient ratio is officially 1:8 but in reality is much worse. Penalty pay has been phased out. It became Nurse culture to work through your breaks, so disjointed that nurses would criticise other nurses if they took their unpaid breaks. On the upside, we did have washing up fairies, or I think we did.
I suppose you could get bollocked and not promoted, but that happens even if you dont cause problems sometimes. If you are in the Union, you are protected. If you are not in the union- go play at your own end;)
Our profession occasionally reminds me of a bunch of loving parents that put sun cream on the kids all day but go home sunburned themselves. We are so good at looking after others but we need to back each other and ourselves. If nothing else- get talking about where you fit in with this industrial action and get to the meetings this week. I can’t name my Hospital, but if you think you know it, our meeting is this Thursday (22nd Sept 2016) 12.30 location TBC. If enough of us rock up, who knows. The Helicopter thing might just happen.