NURSES at the Mercy Place aged care in Albury haven’t ruled out a strike to win a pay rise.
NSW Nurses and Midwives Association organiser James Figallo met disgruntled nurses in Albury yesterday. They adopted an industrial action campaign to secure a better pay deal from Melbourne-based management.
Mr Figallo said a strike couldn’t be ruled out, but immediate measures to raise awareness of the nurses’ plight included wearing badges and distributing pamphlets to patients and visitors.
He said industrial action, which also affected an aged-care centre at Young operated by Mercy Health, was prompted by a threat to staff on Monday about possible job losses.
“As a last resort, they could strike, but we are still a few steps away from that,” Mr Figallo said.
“The staff doesn’t want the residents to be hurt or upset at all, but we just want a fair wage for the nurses.”
Mercy Place nursing staff is seeking a 7 per cent pay rise to bring it into line with counterparts at other aged care centres such as LivingCare, Dellacourt and Yallaroo.
“They are the lowest paid nurses in the Riverina area,” Mr Figallo said.
“The registered nurses are 25 per cent below the other registered nurses in the area.
“The management in Melbourne won’t negotiate any further.
“It has also threatened to cut staff.
“The threat in writing is that it will review staff levels and skill mix.
“It has got us all very concerned.”
Mr Figallo said negotiations for a better wage deal had started 18 months ago.
Mercy management confirmed Mercy Place Albury met all requirements of the Nurses Award, struck in 2010.
“Mercy Health is committed to working in an open and honest manner with staff and the union regarding the conditions of their employment,” a management representative said.