Federal Court orders AMA to pay ASMOF’s costs

13-Dec-2019


Members are aware that on 9 October the AMA NSW informed us they were unilaterally terminating the ASMOF/AMA Alliance.

This decision was relayed to all joint ASMOF/AMA DiT members in an email from the AMA CEO Fiona Davies, which contained statements which we believed were false and misleading and had the potential to harm both the interests of the union and our members.

Since 9 October ASMOF has been trying to salvage the relationship with the AMA.

Members will recall that on 21 October we wrote to AMA NSW asking for a corrective statement from the AMA regarding the 9 October email and for the AMA to acknowledge that they had incorrectly terminated the MOU and that it remained on foot until correctly terminated in accordance with the MOU.

These two requests were rejected by the AMA.

This meant that if ASMOF did not act to protect our interests the statements from the AMA which ASMOF believed were false and misleading would remain uncorrected on the public record. 

Reluctantly the ASMOF State Council endorsed commencing action in the Federal Court to protect our position - arguing the MoU should remain on foot and further seeking a corrective statement on the comments made in the AMA email of 9 October.

Federal Court proceedings were commenced on 7 November and an initial hearing took place on 13 November, with a full hearing date set for 20 December.

On 2 December Justice Griffiths of the Federal Court ordered with the consent of the parties, that the matter be referred for a mediation which took place on Friday 6 December. At the mediation, ASMOF and AMA reached an agreement to resolve our Federal Court action. That agreement is confidential.

Court proceedings resolved

The AMA has now retracted the statements which ASMOF believed were false and misleading that were made in the email of 9 October via a corrective statement sent in an email to all joint members on Monday 9 December 2019. The AMA also agreed to an Order by the Federal Court that it pay our legal costs of $35,000.

Of the statement that ASMOF "does not have the best interests of doctors-in training at heart", Fiona Davies (AMA NSW CEO) said "on behalf of AMA (NSW), I withdraw that statement and ask you to disregard it".

"Of course, I recognise that ASMOF (NSW), its officers and employees have worked for the interests of DITs and have the best interest of DITs at heart," she said, adding "I did not intend to, nor do I, suggest that AMA (NSW) has a different view".

Davies similarly withdrew her claims that ASMOF had been "dragging its heels" on negotiations to continue the alliance, had "jeopardised and delayed" joint initiatives and "failed to produce results" in efforts to renegotiate their award.

"ASMOF (NSW) has negotiated with the Government to obtain wage increases in the Award each year during the operation of the Alliance," Davies wrote yesterday.

She said that "each year, the Government has agreed to a wages increase of 2.5% per annum, which is the maximum allowable increase" under its NSW public sector wages policy unless employee-related cost savings can fully offset higher employee-related costs.

Both the AMA and ASMOF also participated in negotiations on NSW Government policy regarding overtime, shift lengths and breaks between shifts, she said.

AMA cannot represent DiTs industrially

Davies said that ASMOF had "expressed concern about my comment that 'AMA (NSW) can help DITs with most industrial issues'".

In October, Davies told members that the AMA would provide members with IR services comparable to those provided by ASMOF from the beginning of next year. She said at the time that the trainees "don't need" the union, but that they do need the AMA.

However, Davies in her corrective statement said, "as you all know, AMA (NSW) is not a union".

"AMA (NSW) is not a party to the Award and nor can it represent members in industrial proceedings and industrial disputes," she continued.

Asking members to disregard membership renewal forms, that had already been received before 9 December,Davies also confirmed the alliance will continue until May 26 next year.

"Both ASMOF (NSW) and AMA (NSW) regret that in the past few months we have spent so much time talking to you about ourselves," Davies said.

"We are keen to get back to the work of supporting you and to building a stronger health system."

More updates will follow.