More than 500 Queensland doctors have voted to reject individual work contracts proposed by the State Government.
The Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation, which represents more than 3,000 Queensland specialists, says the Government has downgraded conditions and other protections from the workplace agreements.
President Tony Sara says doctors who voted against the proposed changes at a meeting in Brisbane last night would rather leave Queensland than sign up to the contracts.
“It is as serious as it gets. We have never seen anything like this in all of Australia,” he said.
“Specialist doctors are already saying if this doesn’t work out, if these contracts go through as it looks like they will, then we will start moving to the private sector.
“Queensland will have trouble recruiting specialists and we have had a number of doctors say ‘I will die in a ditch before I will sign this contract’.”
Dr Sara says the new arrangements would strip protections from being sacked and doctors could lose a third of their wages.
“The Queensland Government wishes to put all salaried hospital specialists onto individual contracts. The individual contracts are worse than WorkChoices contracts,” he said.
“There is no protection from arbitrary dismissal, there is no dispute resolution processes, the employer does what they want and they don’t have to discuss or negotiate with their staff whatsoever.”
The vote comes ahead of next month’s by-elections for the state seat of Redcliffe and the federal seat of Griffith.
“We will run a political campaign in the by-elections that are coming up,” Dr Sara said.
“Campbell Newman, as I perceive it from Sydney, is on the nose already. I saw them on television in the last few days saying how wonderful he was how much he was doing for hospitals and health care – that is clearly is a extremely questionable and suspect statement.”
North Queensland doctors urged to fight contracts
Meanwhile the public sector union Together says it will discourage senior doctors from signing the individual contracts when it meets with them in Cairns early next week.
The union’s Dr Sandy Donald says about 200 far north medical staff including specialists are affected by the contracts, due to be signed by the end of April.
“We’ve actually asked for a no-disadvantage clause in the contracts and there isn’t one,” he said.
“The new contract removed the threat of an immediate loss of up to 30 to 40 per cent of salary, so there is some change and we have worked hard with the department of health but but a lot of the absolutely critical issues, they’re not allowed to move on.”
In releasing the draft contract in November, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the change would provide workers with “modern and flexible working arrangements and a reduced administrative burden”.
“Individual employment contracts are recognised internationally as best practice for engaging senior staff and this new contract provides VMOs (visiting medical officers) with the recognition their highly valued and appreciated contribution deserves,” he said.
The contracts were first announced in February last year.
Article source: ABC