Bupa nurses and carers from nursing homes across Victoria have rallied outside Bupa’s corporate Melbourne office for safe staffing levels and better wages.

The nurses’ and carers’ industrial action has more than 1000 ANMF members participating in the campaign across Bupa’s 26 Victorian nursing homes. Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement began in July 2016.

The long-running wage dispute has been ongoing to ensure that residents at Bupa’s 26 aged care facilities were not put at risk as a result of the provider “continuing to put profits before care for residents”.

Bupa significantly improved its wage offer since the industrial action began on October 3rd, but it will not agree to improve staffing levels, a commitment to replace staff on unplanned leave such as sick leave or a clause to manage workloads.

ANMF (Vic) were informed that there is an expectation of Bupa managers that when staff call in sick they are generally not replaced

This is referred to as ‘save a shift’. This exacerbates already stretched staffing levels and improves the Bupa bottom line.

ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said that they were “concerned that Bupa’s wage negotiations with the ANMF Victorian branch have failed to address the inadequate staffing levels that are urgently needed if elderly residents at their aged care facilities are to receive the care they deserve”.

“Unfortunately, the campaign our ANMF Victorian branch is running against Bupa is a snapshot of what’s occurring at nursing homes across the country, where providers are putting profits before people, sacking nurses and slashing thousands of nursing hours.”

ANMF have said that Bupa’s wage offer “simply does not address the inadequate staffing that is compromising the care being provided to elderly residents of Bupa’s nursing homes”.

“This includes the number of nurses and carers being rostered on every shift, particularly night shift where we know that often just one carer is allocated to care for between 20-25 residents and the failure of Bupa management to replace nurses and carers on unplanned leave.”

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ANMF hopes for government support to see changes in the wages and staffing ratios – in particular Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt “to intervene and ensure that residents are getting the safe and proper care they require. And to guarantee that taxpayers’ money used to fund aged care facilities will be used to provide direct care to residents.”

“Without mandated staffing levels or care hours in the aged care sector, the Federal Government is allowing providers like Bupa to determine ‘adequate’ levels of care and, as we are seeing at nursing homes across the country, providers can’t be trusted to do this in good faith.”

Bupa’s 26 Victorian aged care facilities receive millions in federal taxpayer funding – $159.8 million in 2015-16 and $172.3 million in 2016-17.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: ‘Bupa receives millions of taxpayer dollars to employ safe numbers of nurses and carers and pay their wages, yet we find ourselves fighting for both.

“The Aged Care Act does not prevent Bupa from staffing only two nurses and four carers overnight to care for 144 residents at Bupa Ballarat or similar ratios at its other nursing homes.”

“Bupa receives enough federal funding to improve staffing levels and provider better resident care.”

Bupa announced senior clinical nursing position redundancies on 3 October. Federal Court Justice O’Callaghan finished hearing ANMF’s case this week that Bupa did not follow the consultation requirements in the enterprise bargaining agreement.

O’Callaghan handed down his decision yesterday and found Bupa was not obliged to consult on the basis that it wasn’t a “major” change, the trigger in the EBA consultation clause, despite 23 positions being declared redundant. ANMF is awaiting legal advice on any potential appeal.

Fair Work Commission Deputy President Hamilton continues to assist the parties with negotiations. The next meeting is scheduled for 31 October.

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