THE OLOC, NSWNMA AND HSU NSW ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT 2017-2020 – Wages Increase 2021
Dear Staff Member
The Aged and Community Care association, the NSW Nurses Union and the Health Services Union have negotiated a 2% increase to wages and allowances effective from the first full pay period from 1 July 2021. We will pass on the higher pay rates in the next full pay on Wednesday 25 August 2021 and we will pay the back pay in a separate manual pay before then.
ACSA and the two unions have arrived at this 2% increase because of a number of factors, including insufficient government funding and the financial impact of COVID-19. The unions are aware that many aged care organisations are only just surviving financially and the industry expects to have losses totalling $800million dollars this year. OLOC is in a stronger position that many others, but the reality is that this year we have had our worst financial results in 20 years.
The Royal Commission
During the Royal Commission, everyone seemed to acknowledge both the valuable work that aged care staff do and the need to increase wages. Unfortunately, the government did not allocate any additional funding for staff wages in the Federal Budget in May this year. The Royal Commissioners criticised the government for pulling out $6 billion in funding over the previous ten years, so the government allocated a small amount of money that was essentially to address this criticism and prevent organisations going broke.
Surviving the Pandemic – a very tough time for nearly all businesses and their workers
2020 and 2021 have been difficult times for nearly every industry and nearly every industry staff group across the country, because Covid has caused the biggest shake up in the economy since the Great Depression that started in 1929 and continued into the 1930s. The one advantage that age care has enjoyed in this pandemic is that it is an essential industry and there have not been the job losses that people in other industries have suffered.
Future Pay Rises – Some Room for Optimism
While it is good that we have been able to keep people employed during the pandemic, the Royal Commission agreed that pay rates should increase and made recommendations along those lines. In its response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations, the government did not intervene to provide any immediate wage increase, but they mapped out a two-step process that might fund pay increases in future. The two steps are as follows:
- The government decided that future pay increases should come from negotiations between employers and unions or from work value cases that come before Fair Work Australia.
- In terms of negotiations, our industry association and the unions will commence discussions in the coming months to come up with a new Enterprise Agreement to run from July 2022.
- At the same time, the unions are already running a work value case in the Fair Work Commission and, depending on the result, this may have an impact on both current pay rates and any future enterprise agreement.
- The government also mapped out a way for providers to be funded (in arrears) for any pay increases that are paid in the previous year. This is not ideal for OLOC because any funding increase to cover pay increases will happen in arrears and we don’t expect it to be backdated to cover the cost of pay rises already paid out. However, this approach is still a better option than what we have had in the past and it seems to be a better option for staff.
We all have to see how this process works in reality but there is some good reason to be optimistic that it will be able to deliver better wages in future.
I want to assure you that we appreciate and value the work you do and everything additional that you have done over the last eighteen months to help OLOC residents and clients get through this pandemic safely. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to speak with Peter Squire on 9832 5406.
Chief Executive Officer
17 August 2021