The Guardian March 15, 2000


Nursing home fiasco:
What about nurses entitlements?

The Australian Nursing Federation (ANF), Victorian Branch has written 
the Minister for Aged Care, Bronwyn Bishop demanding an immediate written 
commitment that the Government would meet all the accrued entitlements of 
nurses affected by the closure of Riverside Nursing Home.

Ms Hannah Sellers, Assistant Secretary of the Nurses' Union wrote: "The 
appointment of the administrator by your department and the revocation of 
the nursing home's licence will result in severe financial losses for our 
members who have lengthy periods of service with the nursing home. Our 
members stand to lose all of their accrued long service leave, annual leave 
and other such entitlements.

"It is clear that our members' entitlements would have been met had the 
nursing home continued to operate and receive funding from your department. 
The decisions that have been taken failed to take into account the enormous 
financial loses which our members will sustain", the letter said.

The nursing home was closed down by the Commonwealth Government with all 
aged residents moved temporarily to a hospital. It is not yet clear either 
to the residents or to their families what long-term solutions are 
available. 

In limbo

Nurses were summarily sacked and left in limbo. Some have already 
experienced outright rejection when trying to apply for nursing positions 
in other nursing facilities. It was nursing staff who alerted the 
authorities about inappropriate treatment of the nursing home residents in 
the first place. 

Instead of consulting with nurses, residents and their families Bronwyn 
Bishop made decisions without considering the impact of those decisions on 
either residents, families or staff.

The ANF believes that the Commonwealth Government must take responsible for 
the entitlements of the Riverside nurses because it was the Government 
which closed the nursing home and forcibly ended the relationship between 
the employees and their employer.

Nurses should not be made the scapegoats in this sorry saga of 
mismanagement. "They need to know now, and the Minister should make an 
immediate announcement that guarantees all their entitlements", said Ms 
Sellers.

"Her failure to do so will be yet another example of her refusal to be 
accountable for the decisions she makes", concluded Hannah Sellers. 

The entitlements of politicians are "protected" and even if Ms Bishop is 
sacked tomorrow she will still receive whatever entitlements are due to 
her. It's a case of one law for politicians and another for workers who 
increasingly find themselves robbed of the money they are owed by 
employers.

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