Communist Party of Australia

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Issue #1601      July 10, 2013

Fed govt must take over Woodhaven Lodge

The Australian Nursing Federation (Victorian Branch) is calling on the federal Department of Health and Ageing to immediately take over the Woodhaven Lodge aged care facility after management has failed to pay nurses for the second consecutive pay period.

The ANF understands the 60-bed Croydon aged care facility, owned by or connected to the Cambridge Aged Care group of companies, employs almost 60 registered and enrolled nurses and personal care workers to care for elderly Victorians who have been classified as “high care”.

The union also understands some nurses and carers were paid late, and some not at all, for the pay period Sunday June 2 to Sunday June 16.

All staff report they have not been paid yet for the pay period Sunday June 16 to Sunday June 30 despite the fact that all of the necessary payroll paperwork was completed on time for wages due to be paid on June 30 (pay day).

ANF federal secretary Lee Thomas said: “Aged care facilities operate with significant government subsidies and if a workforce responsible for the care of vulnerable elderly people with complex and multiple chronic conditions is not being paid the authorities must step in.

“Not everyone has a savings buffer of four weeks’ pay for living expenses, mortgages and rent payments and bills so nurses and carers are understandably talking about having to look for other employment if this aged care facility cannot pay wages. They wouldn’t want to leave the residents but they have their own families and personal responsibilities and must not be treated like volunteers,” Ms Thomas said.

“The Department of Health and Ageing is ultimately responsible for the care of the residents living at Woodhaven Lodge and it must step in to ensure that the nurses are paid immediately and this facility can provide appropriate and safe care,” she said.

“We cannot have a system that pays thousands of dollars in taxpayer funded subsidies, ignores the financial warning signs and leaves unpaid nurses and carers with the ultimate duty of care to the residents.”

Meanwhile, the ANF, Australia’s largest health union, has joined other nurse and healthcare unions from across the world, in the formation of a new international organisation aimed at ensuring the high standards of universal healthcare.

The Global Nurses United (GNU), launched last week in San Francisco, will step up the fight against the harmful effects of austerity measures, privatisation and cuts in health care services that it says are putting people and communities at risk across the planet.

The ANF was among 14 nurse and healthcare unions from the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe, which endorsed the GNU’s declaration.

Lee Thomas, said : “The ANF is proud to be joining forces with other leading nurse unions from across the world in founding the GNU fighting for people, our profession and our planet.

“The GNU will provide us with a platform to co-ordinate the action we need to adopt in tackling issues common to nurses and midwives in all of our respective countries, including cuts to healthcare services and ensuring there’s the right nurse to patient ratios to deliver safe patient care.”

GNU members said they will kick off the new organisation with actions in member nations in September to coincide with the opening of the next session of the United Nations General Assembly. The focus of the actions will likely be austerity, privatisation of health and other public services, and other attacks on health services, with specific actions and targets tailed to national priorities.   

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