Townsville aged care staff rally outside Regis

Published: 17 May 2022 

Townsville nurses and aged care staff will rally against extreme cuts to their wages and conditions at Regis Aged Care in Kirwan today.

Townsville Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) Organiser Gaby Norman said as part of routine Enterprise Bargaining (EB) negotiations, the QNMU was working to secure better wages and working conditions for nurses and other aged care staff at Regis Kirwan.

Ms Norman said Regis Kirwan staff wanted fair wages and conditions with the facility already at risk of more staff leaving the nursing home. However, Regis management continue to attempt to remove existing working conditions including paid overtime, penalty rates and allowances. Management proposes very low wage increases which would cause a cut in real wages of 4 or 5% for most nursing staff in the first year alone. The rally was previously delayed due to an extreme weather warning.

“Staff at Regis Kirwan have worked extremely hard to meet the needs of elderly Townsville residents during COVID-19 and every day,’’ Ms Norman said.

“In return, Regis management are attempting to force aged care nursing staff to work up to 10 additional hours without overtime and rob staff of penalty rates, allowances and other amounts payable for work in ordinary hours.

“In addition, management are offering minimal wage increases - as little as 1% each year or roughly 25 cents an hour, for the next three years for more experienced Regis Kirwan staff - and 2% for most other nursing staff. 
“These wages and conditions are not acceptable and could force experienced staff to leave these nursing homes and their residents. What Regis is proposing is disgraceful and will only make the situation worse.”

Regis’ proposed wage increases would leave staff well behind not only the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 5.1%, but wages at other comparable nursing homes. 

Regis Kirwan recently told employees they had “listened to staff when staff stated they wanted fairness.” However, despite attending an EB meeting on May 11, Regis have not changed their previous abysmal wage offer. 

Private aged care nurses earn up to 48% less than their Queensland Health (QH) colleagues. As part of the It’s Not Too Much to Ask campaign, the QNMU and Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), along with many Australian private aged care providers, are calling for a 25% increase to award wages for nursing staff in aged care. Unfortunately, the Morrison Government is not supporting this.

The QNMU is calling for legislated nurse to resident ratios with 24/7 nurse presence in nursing homes to provide 215 minutes care per resident per day, including 44 minutes for each resident each day with a Registered Nurse. 
The QNMU is also calling for greater transparency by ensuring federal government funding is tied to care as well as improved wages and conditions for staff supported and funded by a 25% increase to aged care award wages. 

The Labor Party has committed to supporting and fully funding an aged care wage increase, investing $2.5B federal funding to support Royal Commission findings, legislated minimum 215 minutes care per resident per day, the introduction of 24/7 nurse presence in nursing homes and aged care mandatory nutrition standards.

The Regis Kirwan rally will take place on Tuesday 17 May between 1.30pm to 2.30pm outside the facility at 1 Emerald St, Kirwan. 

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