Nurses at the Ballarat Day Procedure Centre in Howitt Street took protected strike action on Friday in an ongoing dispute with their employer Cura Group, a subsidiary of German-owned Fresenius Medical Care Australia.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation's (Victorian Branch) secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick, speaking outside the centre, said the ANMF members were determined to win and should not be underestimated.
"This facility has treated them with absolute contempt," Ms Fitzpatrick told a rally of 50 union supporters.
"The Ballarat Day Procedure Centre refused to bargain with us. Their idea of enterprise bargaining was to send us an email... That's inappropriate and it's not very respectable."
Nurses last month voted down a proposed agreement because it failed to offer a fair wage rise or backpay, and removed a clause providing procedural fairness in disciplinary matters, she said.
Industrial relations organiser with the ANMF Allan Townsend said it was disappointing the union had to take Cura Group to the Fair Work Commission to force them to negotiate.
"The claims the members have put forward relate to gaining parity with nurses who work in the same roles at St John of God and Ballarat Health Services," Mr Townsend said.
"They are struggling to get nurses here and to hold them at this facility, so it's important for the nurses here to get a fair outcome in wages and conditions."
This facility has treated them with absolute contemptLisa Fitzpatrick, ANMF secretary
Cura Group said the company had negotiated with the ANMF, Health Workers Union and employees since January 2021, meeting with the employees to reach a fair and reasonable agreement.
"The BDPC management have engaged in multiple discussions and negotiation meetings with the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and the Health Workers Union since Jan 2021, and have been regularly meeting with the employees, to reach a fair and reasonable agreement," Cura said in a statement.
"Despite this fair and reasonable offer, the two unions have encouraged their members to vote against the proposal that could bring major improvements into effect without further delay.
"As part of the negotiations, employees were offered a minimum of 7 per cent pay increase over 18 months. Despite the proposal being rejected by the employees, the BDPC management has already proceeded with the pay rise and employees have been guaranteed all three pay rises documented in the agreement."
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.