The Union for the past couple of years has been working hard to highlight systemic issues taking a heavy toll on members like workloads and unpaid work. And since we started to research the impact of unpaid work on members, we’ve witnessed increased reporting about members doing unpaid work and the staggering increases in workloads.
The results from the last “No Pay? No Way” survey showed that almost 80% of members are doing unpaid work on a weekly basis. Our research also showed an alarming rise in workloads while staff numbers fail to keep pace with growing demands.
And members at St Vincent’s have had enough and are pushing back.
Members became increasingly concerned that vacant positions and absences were not being filled and that management were expecting fewer scientists to do more and more work, while attempting to fill gaps in rosters through recalling rostered on-call scientists. But management didn’t count on members at St Vincent’s deciding they’d had enough. Members are taking a stand and saying No – they’re saying No to unpaid work and No to ever increasing workloads. And they’re saying No to the constant attempts to damage their professionalism with excessive workloads and unpaid work that has led to significant OH&S issues surfacing through exhaustion, stress and anxiety.
They’re saying No because they know that being tired and stressed from huge workloads and unpaid work puts them at risk of making errors. And we know how errors can have a significant impact on patients.
And by taking a stand and saying No, it’s already starting to pay off for members at St Vincent’s.
Members at St Vincent’s aren’t taking industrial action, they’re doing the work they’re required to do during the times they’re rostered to work. All they’ve started doing is exercise their right to say No to additional hours, including overtime and using on call to fill gaps in rosters – they’re exercising their right to say No. It doesn’t mean that if there’s an emergency there’s no-one around to handle it, it just means that members aren’t prepared to keep doing more with fewer and fewer scientists and risking their health and welfare as a result
Saying No is every member’s lawful right. You’re not being unprofessional by saying No to protect your health at work and management can’t take action against you for saying No to working longer hours or doing unpaid work.
The Union is proud of the stand members at St Vincent’s are taking and we fully support them. We hope it inspires members at other health services to stand up and say No to unpaid work and working longer hours.