Public Sector Enterprise Bargaining: Baillieu Government renegs on agreement with Union

Crisis meeting of job reps and members called for 11.30 am Tuesday 16 October 2012 @ Trades Hall

After 10 months of strenuous negotiations, we made a breakthrough earlier this week by accepting an “in principle” offer made through the Department of Health (DoH) and the Victorian Hospitals Industrial Association (VHIA) over the terms and conditions of employment that would form the basis of new enterprise agreements with public health services.

It had been our intention to put the terms of this basis of settlement to the meeting of job reps at Trades Hall next Tuesday for their endorsement.

And in a show of good faith, we asked members not to go ahead with planned strikes at Western Health and Northern Health this week, on the basis that we were close to reaching an agreement on wages and conditions – and to trust us on this without being given the details.

However we were advised by the DoH yesterday that the Baillieu government has reneged on the offer, which was communicated to us only a few days previously.

The reason appears to be that the government is backing away from a proposed “attraction and retention” payment for medical physicists, which was a critical to our acceptance of the offer. This has apparently sunk the whole deal.

Background: Shortage of Medical Physicists in Victoria

There is a long history to this issue. Victorian medical physics workforce shortages are approaching a critical point.
The medical physicist workforce in Victoria is declining to numbers that are unsafe, as physicists are moving interstate for better paid positions. At the same time physicists cannot be attracted to Victoria to fill new and vacant positions.

Ten years ago the federal government initiated an enquiry into the cancer workforce in Australia (the Baume Report).
In 2002 the Report recommended, among other things, that the federal government set up a national body which would
“Take steps to improve workforce numbers by providing a better career path for medical physicists, with better remuneration and recognition for their roles. The number of entrants to these professions must also be increased. That is, we must increase simultaneously recruitment to, and reduce attrition from, the workforce.”

It also recommended that the proposed national body should work closely with relevant unions to develop a nationally consistent approach to increased remuneration for medical physicists, which would include compensation for out-of-hours work and more appropriate links to accreditation and education.

It was recommended that these negotiations should start no later than 2003.

Yes, 2003!

The remuneration of physicists in other states has been addressed, starting with NSW in 2007. Rates of pay in NSW were significantly increased, as a result of an independent decision by the NSW Industrial Commission which assessed the work value of physicists against a range of other professions.

The Victorian government is well aware of the issues relating to the workforce shortage and wage disparity with the rest of Australia, and that physicists are leaving Victoria.

The key issues have been communicated to Ted Baillieu and the Minister for Health on a number of occasions.

Minister Davis advised medical physicists in 2011 that the problem should be addressed through enterprise bargaining with health services.

We have been bargaining since January 2012 as members know.

The Baillieu government is now blocking the very agreement which would have gone some way to solving the matter. It would cost $2 million per year to fix the physicists attraction and retention problem, in the context of a total Victorian health budget of $13.68 billion.

Meanwhile cancer sufferers in Victoria are being denied access to timely radiation therapy treatments.

State of the art equipment cannot be commissioned because of the shortages of physicists. Equipment is being commissioned by ‘fly in fly out’ physicists from other states, who are being paid at interstate rates. There are lengthy waiting lists for treatment.

Where to now?

The Govt.’s duplicitous behaviour is outrageous and can not be accepted.

The Baillieu government is attacking public education, decimating the TAFE system and now seems hell-bent on reducing the quality of public cancer services in Victoria.

We are calling on all job reps and other members who are able to attend, to come to a job reps meeting next Tuesday 16 October, at 11.30 am at Trades Hall, corner of Lygon & Victoria Streets Carlton.

This will be a PAID meeting for job reps.

Members wanting to attend should use leave without pay, annual leave hours or ADO hours to attend.

The Agenda: Response to the Baillieu government

This is an extremely important meeting as we will need to make a decision about how we react to the Government’s provocation.

Please make sure that your department or service is represented as crucial decisions will need to be made.

What can you do?

Write to Ted Baillieu at

Write to your local member of the Victorian Parliament

Go to the sidebar on the left to find members and Ministers and their Email addresses

Write to the editor of the Age and/or the Herald-Sun

Talk to your co-workers about joining the campaign

Talk to your managers about what has happened

Come to the meeting on Tuesday

Strengthen the work bans

Sign the on-line petition at

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