AMA challenges ANF pay rise for practice nurses
THE AMA has pledged to challenge an Australian Nursing Federation attempt to lift the rate of pay for practice nurses at Fair Work Australia hearings set to have begun late last week.
The federation has applied for a low paid bargaining authorisation for practice nurses, which the AMA said “in effect seeks to impose an enterprise agreement on around 900 medical practices”.
ANF National Industrial Officer Nick Blake said the goal was “simply to allow the tribunal to have a review of the terms and conditions of practice nurses”, which he said were below the terms and conditions offered by the hospital sector.
“The general rate of pay paid by practices is about 20–25% below the rate paid to a nurse in a public or private hospital,” he said. “The bulk of practice nurses receive about $25 an hour, whereas public or private hospital nurses would be getting $35–$40 and have better leave provisions and qualification allowances.
“The gap is getting too wide.”
AMA Council of General Practice chair Dr Brian Morton said while practice nurses may earn less than hospital nurses they generally did not have to work late shifts or out-of-hours and the environment was very different.
“It is true that some of these agreements are often poorly done so there is room for improvement but what we don’t need is an award to come in that mandates hospital conditions when community practice is quite different,” he said.
“We don’t believe there are a large number of nurses being underpaid in general practice.”
Hearings are set down for the week beginning 25 June, but an urgent hearing to address what the association argued are “defects in the ANF’s application” were scheduled for Friday, 1 June.