This year’s conference considered a range of important issues facing members including unpaid work, workplace cultures and their health impacts. There were fascinating points being made by those who attended about their reasons for doing unpaid work and the cultures that existed in their workplaces. It was also fascinating to hear how workplace cultures had significantly changed in the past 10 years. In many instances, members at different employers noticed how similar their workplace cultures were in terms of pressure to get more done with fewer staff, increases in workloads and the unspoken culture of doing unpaid work through meal breaks or taking work home.
It was not uncommon to hear people mention their concerns about workload in the context of patient care. However it was great to hear people refuse to allow themselves to be described as unprofessional because of exploding workloads and the failure of employers to better manage the workloads. And in discussing how we can work together to stop unpaid work, there was a very positive response to the actions arising from St Vincent’s to resist doing unpaid work or fill gaps in rosters.
The conference heard that backfilling for absences has all but disappeared from workplace management practice.
With bargaining in healthcare having already commenced for other health unions, the conference heard from Craig McGregor, Secretary of the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association and Paul Healey, Assistant Secretary of the Health and Community Services Union about their respective bargaining and the approach being taken by the Victorian Government. It was a very positive discussion and allowed people to highlight different matters about bargaining for an even better agreement in 2016. It was also great to hear that members are supporting the Union in developing claims to tackle workloads and unpaid work along with provisions to ensure staff are replaced when they leave or are on extended leave.
The conference provided another way for the Union to engage on the key issues as we prepare for bargaining to commence. And conference gave us an opportunity to continue discussing how together we can do something about unpaid work and workloads, especially in light of how members at St Vincent’s are dealing with unpaid work and staff not being replaced.
Read our article on St Vincent’s members standing up and saying No to unpaid work at: http://msav.org.au/news/standing-up-makes-a-rostering-difference/