Reflecting on 2015; Gearing up for 2016

15015_0203As the end of 2015 approaches it’s time to reflect on the year that was. And it was a year of big achievements for the Union.

It started early in 2015 with the Union working to establish a review of pathology contracts and services at the Latrobe Regional Hospital. And it was successfully established because the Union worked to build relationships with the incoming Andrews Government.

We built on the success of the 2014 members’ conference with this year’s conference. The conference explored ongoing issues for
members; it highlighted the progress of the research and the campaign to raise awareness about unpaid work and its impacts on members. The conference also heard from the Assistant Minister for Health who addressed members concerns about the successive cuts to healthcare and the approach of the new State government to healthcare and the health workforce. These opportunities to come together to meet and learn from each other about what is happening across our sector are vital for members to continue standing up for their rights at work.

This year we’ve been working hard to keep standing up for members. And in particular we have been working hard to highlight issues important to all members like proper workforce planning; addressing workloads; and the gross misuse of unpaid work to keep services functioning. The Union has been in regular discussion with the new Victorian Government and working to use these relationships to make it clear to decision makers that Victoria’s health workforce is under extreme pressure.

This year the Union launched its Pathology Petition to help highlight the growing concerns about a decline in pathology standards and the growing shortage of medical scientists. And with over 400 signatures we’re working with concerned Members of Parliament to have the petition presented to Parliament in early 2016.

2015 also saw the Union launch a new website with new features like letting you change your personal details online and to let people join the Union online. The new website also features forums that give you a chance to interact with other members and to highlight the pressing issues for you and your colleagues. And we have been engaging more members with more workplace meetings. It’s our goal to continue meeting members in their local workplaces through 2016 to keep building momentum for enterprise bargaining.

Of course we have had our share of disappointments with the new state government, especially with the release of the state budget and the lack of additional resources to address health workforce issues, or ongoing shortages in staff across a growing number of disciplines. And we saw health services continue cutting mental health programmes even as the state’s mental health minister boldly declared they’re improving services for people seeking help for their mental wellbeing.

But we will continue to advocate and lobby for better pay and conditions as we gear up for public sector bargaining in 2016. And we’re working hard to make sure we’re prepared and ready to bargain for the best outcomes for members.

However to make sure we get the best deal in 2016 it’s going to take all of us working together.

And to have an even stronger voice and stronger bargaining position we’re going to need to keep growing our membership. That’s why it’s vital that you speak with your colleagues about joining the Union.

But in the meantime we hope you have safe and festive holiday period. If you have to work we thank you for your service over the holidays and to helping keep our health services going at a difficult time of year.

We look forward to working with you in the new year as we gear up for public sector bargaining.

— Paul Elliott

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