We've had enough! Don't add insult to injury on payroll
Late in the evening of 11 July 2012, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Hon Jarrod Bleijie MP, introduced to state parliament the Penalties and Sentences and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012, which included changes to the Industrial Relations Act 1999.
These changes empower Queensland Health to automatically deduct overpaid wages from health workers’ pay packets, and was introduced in parliament without any consultation with the QNU or other health unions.
Upon learning of this legislation on Wednesday 12 July, delegates at the QNU annual conference immediately and unanimously passed a resolution condemning the government’s attack on the workplace rights of health workers and demanded that the Health Minister, Mr Lawrence Springborg, attend the conference to hear delegates’ concerns.
While Mr Springborg did attend the conference, his response left a great deal to be desired. Delegates particularly requested the minister do all that he can to quash public rumours that nurses and midwives are refusing to pay back overpayments, given that this is obviously not the case.
Nurses and midwives are only too happy to repay any overpayments – once they are proven, and once the underpayment issue has been comprehensively resolved.
It should be no surprise to anybody – but Mr Springborg least of all – that nurses and midwives have absolutely no faith in the accuracy and reliability of the current payroll system.
Worse, the QNU discovered after Mr Springborg’s departure from conference that the deadline for submissions on this legislation is in just a couple of days’ time, on Tuesday 17 July.
Despite the minimal timeframe, the QNU will most certainly be making a submission.
In response to these recent developments, conference delegates this afternoon passed the following motion:
Delegates to the QNU Annual Conference 2012 acknowledge the health minister’s attendance but express our extreme concern that the LNP proposed legislation will erode Queensland health workers’ rights. The conference resolves that the QNU immediately campaign to have this proposed legislation stopped. This campaign should include placing maximum pressure on LNP members of parliament as well as the Premier and Health Minister through direct membership activity, for example email campaign.
Nurses and midwives, who more than any other employee group have been affected by this disaster, will not be painted as ‘criminals’ for refusing to submit themselves to a defective payroll system over which they have no control.
The QNU has now enabled a protest email facility to Premier Newman, Health Minister Springborg, and Mr Ray Hopper, MP for Condamine and Chair of the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee appointed to examine the bill and report back to parliament on 23 July.
It is essential that nurses and midwives take action quickly by taking the time to send this email.
I know that you, like all of us who attended conference, are burning with indignation over this attempted erosion of long-held industrial rights. This adds insult to the colossal injury already sustained as a result of this unprecedented disaster.
We must speak quickly, with one voice.
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