Happy New Year and welcome to 2016 from everyone at the Union. We hope you had a safe and enjoyable festive season.
2016 is an important year for the Union for lots of reasons but in particular because this year we kick off negotiations for a new public sector enterprise agreement. Though we can’t forget that this year will see a federal election too.
In 2015 we saw the continued devastating impacts of budget cuts by successive State and Federal governments. And now Victoria’s health services are relying on you to do unpaid work to keep many services afloat. In fact without you doing unpaid work many services would be unable to function properly.
And the evidence is showing that the amount of unpaid work is increasing along with ever-growing workloads and fewer staff to fill the gaps. Increasing unpaid work and high workloads are having a seriously negative impact on our lives.
I also believe that your unpaid work is ultimately detrimental to properly funded health services. Unpaid paid work can hide the true picture of chronic underfunding of services and more and more we see can provide a rationale for not restoring proper funding.
We’ll be working hard to ensure health remains a pressure point for the state and federal governments. It will be up to us to ensure that the Victorian Government is held to account for its promises on health; and to do that we have to keep growing our Union and maintaining our work to protecting your rights at work.
We will continue to strongly hold the Victorian Government to its pre-election Policy Platform on job security; base public sector employment levels on needs; reduce, and where possible eliminate outsourcing of public services/jobs; and conduct enterprise agreement bargaining more fairly and efficiently.
With growing concerns about our professions being dumbed down with increasing workloads and workplace stress, it is vital we use this year’s bargaining to address these big issues while protecting the hard won pay and conditions we already enjoy. We know health service executives have stopped properly resourcing workforces and now simply expect you to keep doing more and more work.
It is up to us fight back. It is up to us to protect our professions, wages and hard won conditions and stand up for our rights at work. But to do that we must strengthen our collective voice and strengthen our bargaining strength by increasing our membership. Please encourage your colleagues to join the Union.
We’re back and fired up and we look forward to working with you all to protect our rights at work and our professions in 2016.
— Paul Elliott