Medical Officers' Award

02-Mar-2018

How to solve a problem like... The Medical Officers' Award

ASMOF is aware that the Medical Officers’ Award hasn’t been updated for over quarter of a century. 

The Next Step

ASMOF have requested the Ministry to meet with the JMO negotiating committee and we are currently waiting for a date to meet and progress this important matter. 

This is why, and this is what we’re doing about it.

Medical Officers (JMOs/DITs) were covered by the Public Service Association (PSA) until 1998. In 1997 the President of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission recommended that to settle a long running demarcation dispute between the PSA and the Health & Research Employees’ Association (HREA, now HSU) the two unions exchange certain areas of coverage. This lead to HREA (HSU) getting coverage of JMOs.

From 1998 to 2013 HREA/HSU had excusive coverage of JMOs. However, during that period there was no action taken by the HSU to substantially review the Medical Officers’ Award.

In 2012 ASMOF obtained industrial coverage of JMOs. The process for this started with a request by Fiona Davies of the AMA to the then opposition spokesperson for Health Jillian Skinner to change legislation to allow ASMOF to get coverage of JMOs.

Once ASMOF gained industrial coverage of JMOs the Union entered into a unique partnership with AMA NSW, by which JMOs would join both organisations for a single membership fee, and through which there would be a combined and unified approach JMOs and their issues and concerns. This is the ASMOF/AMA Alliance. Since 2013, ASMOF has been actively engaged with JMOs/DITs to seek to identify the many areas of the Award that need modification, to prioritise those changes, and to seek variations to the Award.

ASMOF has developed a significant schedule of revised Award clauses which has been the subject of extensive negotiations with the Ministry of Health. JMO representatives have been actively engaged in those discussions. Those discussions have been widely reported on through the ASMOF Friday News and the Alliance Weekly News.

The single greatest barrier to progress has been the current NSW State Liberal Government’s inflexible and unfair wages policy, which has been given legislative authority by the Industrial Relations (Public Sector Conditions of Employment) Regulation. This Regulation and Policy prohibits not only a Public Sector organisation such as the Ministry of Health from changing conditions of employment which will increase salary related costs more than 2.5% without equivalent cost offsets, but prohibits what used to be the independent arbiter, the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW, making awards or orders which are inconsistent with the NSW Liberal Government’s draconian wages policy and the related Regulation.

An application by ASMOF to modernise the Medical Officers’ Award before the Industrial Relations Commission using the Award Modernisation Principle was unsuccessful. The Ministry & Industrial Relations Commission considered that our application was inappropriate: “Award Modernisation” was held to be just updating terms, not actual conditions.

The NSW Ministry of Health, and Local Health Districts agree with ASMOF that the existing Medical Officers’ Award is not fit for its purpose. However, every time we put positive solutions to them, they indicate that the wages policy/Regulation prohibits any change.

The recent Hospital Health Check survey conducted by the ASMOF/AMA Alliance is however an example of how the Alliance can identify key issues and adopt alternative strategies successfully. In this case to for the first time have Safe Working Hours arrangements agreed by the Ministry, and incorporated in their internal policies. It was impossible due to the draconian NSW State Liberal Government Wages Policy and the related Industrial Relations (Public Sector Conditions of Employment) Regulation to vary the Award, but using the data from the Hospital Health Check Survey, which was actively publicised through conventional media, The Ministry found it needed to publicly commit to safe working hours in a meaningful way.

The Hospital Health Check Survey, continuing Award discussions, and enforcement of the existing, albeit substandard Award are actively being pursued on behalf of JMOs/DITs. It is relevant that ASMOF has recovered more than $8 Million for JMOs since we were granted industrial coverage in 2013.

We look forward to your active support to ensure that the current virtually obsolete Medical Officers’ Award is modernised and made fit for the industrial needs of Medical Officers.