ASEM Industrial Relations Committee
AN EMPLOYMENT WARNING FOR QUEENSLAND.
In view of the increasingly intransigent position of Minister Springborg and the lack of any progress in resolving critical issues, the Queensland Health System, in particular its Emergency services provided by dedicated Emergency Consultants and trainees are threatened. It is clear that the majority of SMOs are reconsidering their employment options.
Do not believe mass resignations can be countered with attracting staff from other States or NZ. Physicians there have become increasingly aware that the contracts are not to be trusted and a sinking ship does not attract a new crew.
ASEM reiterates our employment warning: we advise against taking up any position within Queensland Health at this stage, nor in the future until the legislation has been rescinded.
ASEM is continuing to play an active role in the campaign and working with ASMOFQ, AMA and Together to fund the next stage.
Your representatives have been working long hours pro bono to protect you from an unsignable contract. Please read their feedback carefully and consider the implications for you, your ED colleagues and departments and the patient care that will be adversely impacted if QH is successful.
The Society and it's Council have seen similar issues in 1984/5 in NSW and SA more recently.
We believe this campaign will be successful as political pressures on the Minister will become overwhelming.
Resist for the future of emergency medicine in Queensland, its training program and research facilities and maintaining the best clinical practice for all, irrespective of their financial background.
Dr M Berkhout
Chair IR subcommittee.
For Instant/Important Updates Follow Twitter: @marcelfberkhout
For 'Keep Our Doctors' Resource kit please click here
Published 19th March 2014, YouTube Aus
Joint ASA, ANZICS and ASEM Response to QLD Government
Please find below a joint response from ASA, ANZICS and ASEM to the QLD Government regarding the current SMO and VMO contracts dispute:
Response to QLD Gov
Cairns health staff protest against doctor contracts
Published ABC News 26th Feb 2014, Kirsty Nancarrow.
What you can do right now to fight contracts
ASEM has been closely involved with the efforts of EM doctors in Queensland to oppose the draconian legislation aimed at SMO's in Queensland's Public Hospitals. The IR subcommittee, headed by Dr Marcel Berkhout, endorses this letter and urges all affected medical staff to print and sign this letter immediately and fax/scan/mail it to their local MP.
Released 17th April 20014
Thank you everyone who turned out for the Keep Our Doctors meeting last night.
Over 1000 doctors from across the state joined us either in person or online to hear the latest information on the contracts.
One thing last night was clear: together, we have come a very long way. The contracts on the table now are a world ahead of what the Government first put in front of us last year.
But it’s also clear that they’re not perfect. Many of you still have concerns – and many of those concerns stem from a lack of trust in the Government. The Government has a lot of trust to rebuild, both with doctors and the public.
The contracts are expected to go live on the Government’s website later today. This will be your opportunity to look through the contract, ask questions and decide whether it is right for you.
We will be in touch very shortly with information about the ballot that will be held to gauge doctors’ views on the contracts. We expect the ballot to take place over the coming weeks.
Whatever the decision, one thing is for sure – we will not stop campaigning for the best possible conditions for Queensland patients and doctors.
We are stronger as a result of this campaign and we will continue to use that strength to ensure Queensland’s public health system is world-class – not just for those currently in the system, but also for those to follow.
Thank you again for getting us to this point. The strength you and our Keep Our Doctors supporters have shown in the face of this dispute has been remarkable. If you missed the video of the campaign highlights last night, catch up on it here
Keep an eye out for the new contracts today, and stay tuned.
Have a very happy Easter.
The Keep Our Doctors team
PS: this campaign has shown the importance of being part of a union. Go to the Together and ASMOF websites for information on how to join.
Released 8th April 2014
Pineapple Meeting Postponed, your hard work got us here
As you may have heard, the Director-General and the Minister promised changes to the contracts today.
The Director-General met with the Keep Our Doctors task force last night to inform us of the decision, while at the very same time the Health Minister was talking about it live on radio.
Congratulations. It’s because of your dedication to the people of Queensland that we’ve got to this point. This has only come about because doctors have stayed united as part of the Keep Our Doctors campaign.
But we can’t get too excited just yet. We haven’t seen the detail.
The Government told us they would send through updated documents today, and they just have. But we cannot rush this – our patients are relying on us to get this right.
We need to take the time to thoroughly go through the documents, get legal advice, and sit down with the Government to discuss the finer details. At first glance there still seems to be some areas that need further work.
For that reason the Pineapple meeting has been postponed by a week. The new date is Wednesday 16 April
We have given the Government a week to sit down with us and discuss the details in order to get an offer that puts the needs of our patients ahead of the needs of bureaucrats. By next week we will be in a position to discuss the details of the negotiations with the Government and provide a well-informed view on the contracts.
We cannot rush this. Queensland’s health system is too important. We’ve seen what’s happened in the past when the Government has rushed things.
All we know right now is that the Minister and the Director-General have suggested that they will roll the amended addendum into the contract document; take the word ‘profitability’ out of the contract clauses; make the dispute resolution process clearer; and change the make-up of the ‘contracts advisory committee’.
The fact that there has been movement is a positive step, however we remain very cautiously optimistic.
The only thing that is clear at the moment is that your commitment to the campaign is working and that the people of Queensland are behind you.
We are hopeful we will be able to sit down with the Government over the coming days to discuss the detail and work out how we can reach an agreement that puts the needs of the people of Queensland first.
We will keep you updated as soon as information comes to hand. Further details about the Pineapple meeting on 16 April will be circulated shortly.
The Keep Our Doctors campaign team
Released 7th April 2014
Endorsed by Dr Marcel Berkhout, Chair IR Committee, Immediate Past President ASEM
Tired of talking about contracts? Tired of reading emails about contracts? Tired of thinking about contracts?
This is what the Government has intended for us all along. To wear us down, give us a few crumbs over the last six months but nothing truly meaningful. It is all part of their strategy, in the hope that we will give up now, even when we are doing so well. But we have continually defied their expectations of us - so let's keep it that way!
Professional negotiators always use all of the allotted time, right down to the deadline - we are dealing with highly skilled negotiators who intend to take this to the very last minute.
The majority of negotiations proceed very slowly, right until the very end when a lot gets resolved very quickly. It is natural to tire, but it is the side that maintains their focus, solidarity and resolve right to the very end, who will prevail.
We are all feeling fatigued and now some of us thinking that maybe the contract addendum (the 2nd one) and the legislative change is not so bad after all. At least 3 separate legal opinions state that the contract/addendum is still fundamentally flawed. There are still significant holes through which the Government can weasel out of. For more details, please go to
RESPONSE TO DG’S LETTER: 2 APRIL 2014
Most people would have seen the full-page ad and the article in the Courier-Mail today about mass resignations. This is a serious step and is a decision which has not been taken lightly by any of the senior doctors involved - but it seems like the only way to get the Government to come back and negotiate in good faith for the first time in this whole process. Many attempts have been made in the past few days to organise a meeting with the D-G, Health Minister and Premier, but these have all been declined.
No senior doctor wants to leave their patients, but the world will not end next week if mass resignations are submitted - the Government will have 3 months to sort this thing out properly. Remember, they had many opportunities to do this since December, but they refused to and dismissed all our claims, until finally admitting that there were serious problems in March. So the claim that they have done "all that they can" is a complete lie. It is sad that things have come to this, but it is important to think unemotionally about what is the next step to achieve the outcome we seek.
The ability to change the system from within will be impossible once doctors sign these contracts. The power will lie with administrators and managers, and the malignant health bureaucracy will drive our public health system towards the epic failures of the NHS and Mid-Staffordshire. If you ask any doctor who has spent time in the NHS, the exact same thing that happened there is happening here right now. We now have ex-NHS administrators in powerful positions in Queensland Health! The system that we have rebuilt from scratch is now at extreme risk, again.
This is the real intent of the contracts - forget the A-G report and the alleged rorters. We have already been witnessed or been subject to poor management decisions within our own hospitals - there has been no accountability for these costly mistakes, and now our ability to speak out against future management failures and advocate for our patients will be totally destroyed. According to the AMA Code of Ethics: "Refrain from entering into any contract with a colleague or organisation which may conflict with professional integrity, clinical independence or your primary obligation to the patient."
These contracts are simply wrong, and no one wants to sign them. The legislation is wrong. The process, along with the bullying and intimidation, is wrong. If you do not sign and stay on MOCA3, you will be forced on to these contracts by a health employment directive on 1st July 2015 - there is simply no escaping them!
We cannot let our responsibility to our patients be manipulated by the Government to force us to sign a contract where we lose any ability to advocate for these same patients.
See you at the Convention Centre for the Last Pineapple - 9th April @ 7pm. All senior doctors and registrars welcome.
Webcast - http://webcast.gigtv.com.au/Mediasite/Catalog/catalogs/keepourdoctors
Stay strong, stay positive, stay together.
Released 5th April 2014
It has been an intense six weeks since the first Pineapple meeting and so much has happened. We can feel the weariness from battle, but with our combined efforts, we have come a long way from where we were in February. This weekend is a good time to restore our strength and energy, and steel ourselves for the upcoming final Pineapple on 9th April at 7pm, Brisbane Convention Centre. No doubt, with school holidays and general malaise, it would be easy to pass on this meeting, but we implore you to make the effort to attend for one last time.
This meeting will be very serious and will discuss the solutions that are being proposed by the taskforce, and also the plan of action going forward if there have been no further negotiations or discussions with the Government by then. This will include making decisions about resignations and also how to advance the campaign.
We all want to get on with our lives and put this dispute behind us, but to accept an inferior solution due to fatigue would be a real tragedy, particularly given our strong position at the moment.
The Government is certainly feeling more pain and weariness than we are, as evidenced by Campbell Newman's discussion with an SMO at the local shops - this email has probably done the full rounds throughout Queensland by now. He expressed a desire to fix things and conceded that locums would be too expensive. The taskforce is committed to sitting down with the Government to work out a fair and reasonable resolution.
Even the Courier-Mail is starting to run out of hate material - today's article mentioned "the State Government is investigating threats against doctors who have signed contracts", and was a small column on page 5. The irony is that the State Government should be investigating itself, because it has been the one that has been menacing and threatening all doctors!
Please visit the http://smoqld.org for the latest information and updates (particularly on the 2nd addendum & latest D-G letter). There have been major changes to the website, so spend some time exploring the website (while you are relaxing!). Note that this website is maintained by senior doctors who are affiliated with the taskforce, and is not connected to the Government in any way.
Released 24th March 2014
Dear colleagues, This week is absolutely crucial. We are days away from the 31st of March which is the most important date with regards to resignations
This is the ultimate sacrifice that we can make for our patients and the health system that we have dedicated our lives to. I do not want to leave my hospital, my department, my colleagues and especially my patients, but this Government has given me no choice.
I will not stand by and be bullied into signing an unfair contract which can only be forced upon me by unfair legislation which was passed by stealth in the middle of the night.
I will not be lectured by politicians about listening, trust and respect - when we have been afforded none of these things, and instead they continue to propagate lies in Parliament and in the media. They are desperately trying to drive a wedge us and our unions - do they really think we would believe their spin over the detailed legal advice provided by our unions?
If their intent is to provide us with fair and just working conditions, then why do they continue to treat us so unfairly? The behaviour of this Government has been vile and appalling.
More and more of my colleagues realise that they have to take a moral stand against this. These include colleagues who are the sole income earner in their family and have children. Interestingly, the repulsive media campaign by the Government over the last few days has been the tipping point for a lot of people to submit their resignations - so instead of trying to demoralise us, they have only strengthened our resolve!
They have continually denied there was a problem with the contracts/legislation until three weeks ago, when they finally agreed that there were major concerns that needed to be addressed. Their proposals to the contracts/legislation via a contract addendum, a Ministerial direction and changes to the HHB act are awkward and inadequate - there is still a "get-out clause" in the fine print which leaves us in the same exposed position as before.
These proposals also require an enormous amount of trust from us, which has been utterly destroyed by this Government when they decided to break the MOCA3 contract, change the law and force us to sign unfair contracts. We suggested that a sign of good faith and a step towards rebuilding trust would be to halt the contract roll-out to allow proper re-working of the contract and legislation - this was denied as they were adamant that these contracts need to be signed by 30 April for "operational reasons".
Barriers to resigning:
Will there be critical mass?
I believe so - but it will take courage to sign your resignation letter while waiting for the numbers to accumulate. We only have a matter of days until the end of March.
We each cannot stand on the sidelines, waiting for everybody else to act.
Hesitation is natural, but for me, once I signed the paperwork and submitted it, a great sense of calm and peace came over me - I knew I was absolutely doing the right thing. No matter what happens, I know I will not regret this decision - this is the right decision.
We all make decisions in life which can change our lives completely - no doubt, this is one of them. We certainly did not ask for this, but we all have a responsibility to respond to this intimidation and bullying, and protect our patients. Newman has always maintained that we are selfish individuals who will look after our own interests - what sort of doctors does he think we are? To not stand up and fight would mean that his low opinion of us is justified.
Is there a risk?
Like anything in medicine, nothing is without risk. The risk is very low if large numbers of people participate. But also realise that there is risk of staying with Queensland Health under these contracts - even if you do not sign by 30 April, you will be eventually forced on to these contracts by Health Employment Directive after 30 June 2015 (the nominal expiry date of MOCA3).
The Government has shown it has no problem introducing legislation to force you to sign and to disadvantage you, so what is going to stop them from issuing future HED's through the D-G to reduce your conditions even further?
The benefits from co-ordinated resignations in large numbers far outweigh the risks. This is our one opportunity to make a united stand against this oppression. Also, if we fall, then the rest of Queensland is vulnerable to this behaviour.
Will we work collectively during the notice period?
The key is to stay united (which we have been doing really well so far) is to not let the Government splinter us or divide us with "sweetheart" deals to individual specialties during the notice period. We either all come back, or none of us come back.
In South Australia, with the two mass resignation episodes, the deal was also all back or none back - both were successful. 2007: 80% psychiatrists, 2008: majority of all specialties. The media war was won during the notice period after the resignations.
Won't they just replace me with overseas/interstate doctors?
This is simply not practical if a large number of senior doctors leave. Furthermore, it would be political suicide. It will also cost an enormous amount of money which will have to be explained to the Queensland public - would it not be simpler and more cost-effective to halt the roll-out while we can negotiate a fair and reasonable contract?
Also, if their true intention was to replace all of us with overseas/interstate doctors, they would keep absolutely silent about this and just let us resign without saying a word or trying to stop us. The fact that they are sprouting blatant bravado meant to STOP us from resigning shows that they know how bad it will be for them politically if it does happen - indeed, Springborg said a few weeks ago that he would be doing a disservice to the public of Queensland, as well as doctors, if there was a mass walkout.
What will happen to patients?
A "disaster" plan will be formulated to ensure that emergency and urgent patients are seen and treated appropriately. Another idea (which has been done before in other states) is to form private specialty groups and re-tender services back to Qld Health.
Finally, YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A UNION MEMBER TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS. But you should consider joining!
Resignation documents are here: http://keepourdoctors.com.au/resources/
If you would like the Together Union to have authority over your resignation, please use the attached authority letter.
It is really heartening to see people coming together and devoting their time, effort and money to this campaign. This is a historic moment in all our lives and we are responding in kind. It will be a struggle over the next few weeks/months, but we will win this fight against oppression.
Hau Tan MBBS FANZCA
Released 23rd March 2014
Mass resignations - 8 days remaining
The aim of mass resignations is for no-one to have to resign and for no-one to actually even tender their resignations to the government - and we use it to stop the Government from destroying the public health system.
They are to be given to the unions to hold until we reach critical mass. If we do not reach critical mass, no resignations will be submitted and the trigger is never pulled on the action. However, if you still want to resign, you can submit it to QH.
If we reach critical mass, the unions call a press conference and informs the Government that they hold xxxx resignations (it will be a safe number). It is at this point that the government should stop misbehaving and start to negotiate properly (particularly if a lot of more pressure has been applied through the media).
If they are stubborn enough, they will ask for the resignations to be submitted, and then we all start working our 3 month notice period. It is unlikely they will pay out our notice period as they will not be able to maintain services.
Here, the Government will try to splinter groups by picking off specialty groups one by one, and enticing them back with "sweet" deals.
This is where we must hold strong - acting as one united force, so that we can all achieve a fair and reasonable outcome.
If we had 100% participation - there would be virtually 0% risk
If we have 1% participation, it will not work (naturally, we would not proceed with this).
Between 1000-1500, we will be in a strong position, 2000 would be really good.
The number will never be published as a rolling tally, because the Government will get a hold of it, and will use it against us.
The other factor for critical mass is certain specialties and hospital departments - we may be able to participate with less numbers if whole services or departments are lost)
So this week, we really need you to talk with each other and finalise your decisions. We want to collect as many signatures by end of March, and the two dates proposed for people to resign are the 31st March and 30th April. Please note that regardless of the date, you will receive your recreation leave and long service leave on termination (you will not lose it).
If there is a mass resignation and loss of services, we will maintain emergency and urgent services (even if it means no pay!)
(the above text has been modified from a document kindly written by someone else)
Who are the thugs?
Just to be clear - there is no "union thuggery" going on behind the scenes. The unions are being instructed by the SMOs, and not the other way around. The only "thugs" in this dispute are the Government with their bullying behaviour and continual lies and propaganda in the Courier-Mail. The unions have always held the view that they would never make any decisions on behalf of their members without consulting them first, which is in stark contrast to the way that Government MPs represent their own constituents.
There is no absolutely desire to create maximal mayhem and destroy the Government - the desired outcome out of all of this is to be able to sign a fair and reasonable contract backed with fair and reasonable legislation which does not put the interests of administrators and managers (with little or no accountability) above the interests of our patients. Unfortunately, the lawyers say that we are not there yet. The proposals that the Government have come up with all have a get-out clause in the fine print, so they can go back to changing our contract without our agreement for the worse. Their proposed legislative change which is supposed to limit the powers of the D-G, can be overturned by a regulation (a regulation is simply a document developed by Government which the Governor-in-Council rubber stamps and which only needs to be tabled within 14 days of the next sitting of Parliament after it is made, and it can take effect before that date)
We have to be careful not to let the Government drive a wedge between us and the unions. At the end of the day - we ARE the unions, we ARE one and the same. Springborg has turned his back on the AMA and unions, and will deal with doctors one-on-one. This is potentially very dangerous, so we must make sure that we are not divided and conquered - we need to stay united and tell the D-G, Springborg and whoever else that they need to communicate with our taskforce representatives.
We really need to hit the twitter-sphere hard - MPs are all on twitter and if we can generate a lot of discussion about the contracts, then this will have our campaign and correct the misinformation and propaganda that is being spread.
FACT SHEET: SMO Resignation Fact Sheet
KOD/SMO Proforma Resignation Letter: please click here
KOD/SMO Proforma Authority Letter to ASMOF: please click here
FACT SHEET: VMO Resignation Fact Sheet
KOD/VMO Proforma Resignation Letter:please click here
KOD/VMO Proforma Authority Letter to ASMOF: please click here
Released 22nd march 2014
To view a summary of events over the last few months & analysis of proposed contract addendum please click here for an update on SMO/VMO contract negotiations
Forwarded message from up north - beware the "divide and conquer" strategy
Colleagues, The LNP has initiated a divide & conquer strategy involving calling influential doctors up to ask their opinion on what is needed to resolve the current crisis. They may even offer you unique access such as a call from the DG / Minister etc.
The purpose is to undermine our unity and the work of the Taskforce. Please do not fall for this. Whilst it is OK to engage them individually do not fall into the trap of 'representing' anyone and don't offer solutions different to what we have asked in negotiations.
Let us know immediately of any such contact by email or phone so that we can give you relevant material to forward.
Remember the LNP logo: disunity is death. Ours is: unity is strength.
Please stay unified at this critical time. We will not let you down.
There are some fake emails circulating - one from an Indian recruitment agency suggesting they had plenty of Indian anaesthetists ready to come over (overlooking the registration and accreditation hurdles), and another one apparently from internal QH meeting talking about measures to replace certain specialties (had loads of incorrect information). These are deliberate attempts to try to play with our minds, so please ignore them (and let us know if you do receive such material)
We expect that tomorrow in the Sunday's Courier-Mail, there will be a full page attack ad from the government, and also another article attacking doctors. Please note that we are going to take some hits in the media from here on in, so don't get dispirited with what you read. We will need to counter with our own paid media, and this means that we may need to contribute more money to the ASMOF fighting fund (or for those who haven't contributed already, it's time to donate!). $1k from each SMO or VMO means a war chest of a few million dollars which will allow us to fight the lies and propaganda - this is a tiny price to pay to maintain these vicious attacks on our profession and integrity.
And finally, a fantastic interview:
Some excellent points made in an interview recently by one of our SMOs:
If there are any other Google Groups that have formed and wish to be part of the SMOQLD updates, please let us know.
Released 21st March 2014
The Pineapple Meeting #3 was a huge success, with 1500 doctors attending (and more online).
To be clear, none of the recently proposed changes by QH in their contract addendum were ever agreed upon - the SMO taskforce cannot agree to anything without consulting the members it represents first (this concept of representing your members or constituents seems completely foreign to LNP MPs). The legal advice was that these proposed changes were inadequate - and this was unanimously supported by those who attended the meeting.
The Government is undertaking a huge assault on us right now - but this is only because we have brought immense pressure on them over the last few weeks. Their rhetoric is becoming rather desperate - it was interesting to note that Newman's voice was wavering when he stood in Parliament and said "do not doubt the resolve of this Government". As Gandhi said:
First they ignore you
Then they laugh at you
Then they fight you
Then you win.
We've been ignored and laughed at (hysterical doctors talking flim-flam), so we are in the penultimate stage of them fighting against us. The latest assault in the media and in Parliament with vicious, personal attacks, as well as the propagation of complete lies, only reinforces that we are doing the right thing. The last two days have seen doctors now committed more than ever to fighting this campaign.
They are fully aware of the impending mass resignation, and are trying desperately to thwart it with empty threats of recruiting interstate and overseas doctors. By threatening this, they have actually shown their hand that they do not want us to resign, and that they will not be able to cope if we resign. If the Government really wanted us to resign, they would have kept absolutely silent and just collected our resignation letters. Likewise, if they really wanted to hire interstate and foreign doctors. They are acting just like an abusive husband, telling his wife that he can always find someone else and challenging her to leave, while desperately hoping inside that she doesn't leave and the reality is that he needs her more than she needs him (apologies if this domestic violence analogy offends).
They have always thought that we would act with individual self-interest, but they never expected such selfless solidarity from us.
It's been an intense few weeks, and the next week will be absolutely crucial. No doubt, we need to counter the media spin - so if any doctors (or even whole departments would be better) wish to make a stand publicly with their resignations, please contact us ASAP. There have been heaps of doctors who are willing to do letter-drops - please think of any way you can push the message out there to the broader public. You will be surprised how quickly patients' perceptions (and others) of what is going on can be corrected with a quick chat. Also, please donate money to the fighting fund if you haven't already - running TV and print ads are free for the Government, but not us! Go to https://keepourdoctors.com.au/donate/
With regards to resignations, go to http://keepourdoctors.com.au/resources/ for more information. These can be scanned an emailed to the email address at the top of the authority letter. They need to be dated, so either put the 31st March or 30th April. Please note, your long service and recreational leave will be paid out regardless of which date you put (you do not receive private practice allowance on these entitlements if they are paid out vs if you take them in your course of employment).
People have been asking about numbers so far - the numbers will not be publicised widely because that information will inevitably reach the Government, however we will see if we reach critical mass by the end of the month, and if we are going to pull the trigger on this, then we will check with all of you to give you the option to opt out (if you change your mind) before submitting the resignations. If the critical mass is not reached, then we will not go ahead with it and the resignations will not be submitted (although some people will still want to resign regardless of what happens - please indicate this when you email your scanned documents).
Keep up the fight! This fight will almost certainly go beyond the end of March, but we are winning...in the meantime, please make sure you are looking after yourselves.
Released 17th March 2014
Pineapple Meeting - Wednesday 19th March @ 7pm
The meeting will be held at the Plaza Terrace Room at the Convention Centre (on Plaza level) - please be there around 6:30pm for a start at 7pm sharp.
The aim is to get well over 1000 doctors attending this meeting. These meetings have been crucial in applying pressure to get to where we are now - the day after the last Pineapple Meeting, the Minister called a meeting with senior doctors representatives. If this upcoming Pineapple Meeting is even more successful than 2 weeks ago, we will be in a very strong position to get these unfair contracts and legislation fixed properly once and for all.
So once again, bring a colleague who has not been before. The meeting is also open to registrars.
Here is a link to a map: http://www.bcec.com.au/rooms-spaces/plaza-level
Since this meeting will incur a significant cost, we ask that attendees donate $20 to help cover the cost of room hire, webcasting facilities, IT support and food/beverages.
For those doctors attending the SMACC conference down the Gold Coast, there will be buses to transfer people up on the night - please email email@example.com to book your seat.
Webcasting details will be sent out tomorrow or early Wednesday.
Meeting with D-G and Minister Springborg
This afternoon, there was a meeting with the D-G and the Health Minister to further discuss how to resolve the key issues regarding the contracts and the legislation. Work is currently being done to formulate a comprehensive solution for these issues, and will be presented to us on Wednesday for our consideration, and will be discussed at the Pineapple Meeting that night.
Any solution would need to incorporate change to the legislation and change to the contracts, to ensure that we have certainty going forwards with regards to our employment conditions in the future. It was also stressed at the meeting today that any solution would also need to apply to VMOs as well as SMOs (this was agreed to by the D-G and the Minister; note Dr Cartmill has not been present at any of these recent meetings)
In the meantime, we need to focus on continuing the campaign - many are concerned that these meetings are a distraction intended to take our momentum away. Indeed, until we have a definitive solution that satisfies all our concerns, we cannot relent.
Please support the rallies at your hospital - they are open to the public.
Join a union/support fighting fund
We are approaching the 30th April - so if you haven't joined a union, please consider membership (ASMOF or Together).
Also, if you have not done so already, please consider contributing to the fighting fund.
Released 10th March 2014
This afternoon, representatives from ASMOF, ASMOFQ, Together, AMA, AMAQ and senior doctors met with the D-G to discuss a way forward. It was clearly stated that this would require changes to the legislation and the contract. The reply today was that there was no intention to change the legislation or the contract, instead work-arounds may be offered.
Today was only a start and there is a lot of work to be done and not much time to do it. It was a short meeting, and we will meet again on Thursday. There is no guarantee that there will be a satisfactory outcome at the end of these meetings, so people should just continue to do what they are doing now, which is:
networking with colleagues
getting involved in the campaign
joining a union
donating to fighting fund (we need more money for paid media)
considering all their options (including resignation)
and carry on as if none of these meetings were taking place.
The D-G has said that no one has to sign contract until 30th April. He was told that some senior doctors are being given 2 weeks to either sign or refuse to sign and he said that he would talk to all the HHS chief executives after today's meeting to clarify this. So if you are given a deadline to sign prior to 30th April, you can reply that the D-G has said that this is not true. We suggested that he send out an email to all senior doctors to make sure his position on this is crystal clear. However, he did also say that the contract offers will be withdrawn after 30th April.
There will be a dispute hearing in the QIRC regarding the misinformation that QH has been disseminating about whether you can bring a support person, who that support person can be and what role they can play in the meeting.
Furthermore, there is ongoing misinformation regarding health employment directives and also the claim by the Minister that we can claim unlimited damages in the Supreme Court with regards to unfair dismissal
(this is completely false - please click on the links below)
The Truth About Directives
The Truth About Unlimited Damages
Finally, there is the campaign roadshow with rallies this week and next. Please check http://keepourdoctors.com.au/category/upcoming-events/to know when your hospital is next.
The next Pineapple meeting will be on 19th March @ 7pm, at a venue to be decided but it should be close to CBD.
Released 7th March 2014
As you know, the Pineapple Meeting #2 was a great success in terms of coming together, and expressing our views and having some discussion about what to do next. A third meeting will be planned for the 19th March, with the venue to be confirmed (we will look to get an appropriately sized venue to hold over 1000 people)
The meeting with Springborg
The pressure from Pineapple #2 and the actions of Dr Chris Davis has re-opened discussions which will take place next week to try to resolve the major issues remaining with the contracts.
While it represents a very small positive step, it in no way represents negotiation or resolution. The temptation would be to relax a little now, but we should actually intensify our efforts, as we can see the tangible results from what we are doing (of course, whether this will translate into a satisfactory outcome remains to be seen). Until a meaningful resolution is achieved, we should act as if none of this has happened. We need to achieve a successful outcome that is robust and cannot be reversed.
There needs to be an immediate and complete stop to the QH blitz to get signature on to "contracts" while these discussions are taking place. There is a possibility that these discussions do not reach a satisfactory outcome, or that they are not conducted in good faith, so we need to continue to plan for this, while discussion are taking place.
Don’t sign, resign
With regards to resignations, documents will be provided on Monday. We appreciate that some people have been wanting these for several weeks, but there have been many other facets to this campaign, and we have all been very busy handling multiple tasks. We wanted to strike that balance between getting it completely right, and not rushing documents out too early or under-developed.
The official email address for registering resignation is SMOResignation@asmof.org.au
Remember, for maximum benefit, we have to achieve critical mass by 30 March. More details on what it will take below.
Detailed discussion of our options and strategy
The options that we have available to us are:
“Sign” - give up now.
“Sign with reduced time” - Sign but with reduced hours
“Sign and resign” - sign now and resign later
“Refuse the contract” - refuse to negotiate outright.
“Don’t sign but don’t refuse” - maintain “negotiation”.
“Counter offer” - offer an alternative individual contract.
“Resign on your own”
“Mass resignation” - ASMOF holds your resignation until it can be used for maximal benefit
When we evaluate each option we need to consider the ease of implementation compared to how effective the technique is at forcing the government to resolve the problem. It comes down to pressure, how much pressure will be placed on us and how much pressure will be placed on the government. This will completely depend on the resolve of individuals to act collectively as one and withstand any pressure.
The likelihood of achieving renegotiation of these contracts varies with each option:
“Sign” - there is no renegotiation, we give up and lose..
“Sign with reduced time” and “Sign and resign” - Both moderately difficult to implement and put mild pressure on the government as people slowly leave. This will compromise care significantly in time as staff losses exceed recruitment. It will take another Bundaberg to right this problem. That is not fair on the Queensland public.
“Refuse the contract” - As we discussed last, refusing the contract outright is worse for us than maintaining negotiation.
“Don’t sign but don’t refuse” - Maintaining “negotiations” allows the media and political campaign to continue building and applies moderate pressure on the government. We are already seeing the cracks in the government so we need to maintain this pressure. However, there is significant pressure on individual doctors to maintain this strategy.
“Counter offer” - This is similar in that “negotiation” is maintained while the campaign builds. Again it places significant pressure on individuals.
“Resign on your own” - This is a very personal decision. You have been advised that for maximum benefits, you should resign by 30th March, three months prior to the loss of private practice benefits. This method is not particularly injurious to the government as individuals can be replaced easily unless you are in a particular subspecialty area. Subspecialty resignations make a significant splash at one site, but often the effects are not as great as anticipated as the system makes adjustments to cope.
“Mass resignation” - This puts massive pressure on the government if managed appropriately. The decision to join a mass resignation is individual, but it is about putting the needs of the greater cause above your individual concerns. It is likely to be successful if followed through with fortitude and resolve.
ALL of the options involve the choices and actions of individuals. The group actions rely completely on individuals deciding to act collectively as one.
As discussed at Pineapple #2, the current plan involves maintaining negotiation but not signing, continuing the media and political campaign, and collecting signatures for mass resignation.
To maintain negotiation, we suggest
Keep getting information about your overtime and recall, including the source leave forms and AVACs, to correctly calculate your tier 2.
Keep negotiating your KPIs to an acceptable form.
Ensure that you have union representation at your contract meetings.
To maintain the media and political campaign
If you are willing to speak to the media, contact firstname.lastname@example.org We need your stories about how this is impacting you, your hospital, your patients and the community so that we can get it out to the people of Queensland
Meet with your MP
Tell your friends and family to write to their MPs, or visit them
The paperwork for mass resignation is continuing to be developed but decide:
Will you ever feel safe under this contract?
Do you think this “Command and Control” management style is going to produce the best patient outcomes?
Can you handle the three months of pressure as we serve out the notice period?
How long can you survive if the government lets it go through?
Can you watch overseas and interstate doctors being flown in to Queensland for huge sums of money while they try to break our resolve? Can you watch our health system work half as well for twice the cost just so that they can crush us?
Do you believe the greater good is worth the individual stress we will be under while we force the government to fix this problem?
This strategy relies on individuals working together with a unity of purpose.
The Propaganda Campaign
You will have noticed the massive propaganda campaign by QH over the last week or so. They understand that they need to ‘listen’ more and, to that end, they’ve been doing a lot of ‘telling’. The documents anonymously tell us how benign the contracts are while our named lawyers tell us that they are not. We don’t have the manpower to counter each document pumped out this week because of the sheer volume - remember we do not know who the authors of these documents are, and they are not signed by anyone so we do not know what their qualifications are to make such claims.
Our response is simple:
They had to change the law governing unfair contracts to be able to bring these contracts in. They have to threaten and bully us to force us to sign these contracts.
Why would they need to do that? We have been legislated out of fair contracts. No matter what they say and do about the contract, the underlying legislation will cause malignancy to recur. We will keep getting cancers because of the bad underlying genetics.
Remember, the third meeting will be on 19th March, with the venue to be confirmed.
Released 4th March 2014
A reminder that the Pineapple Hotel Meeting is on Wednesday night, 5th March at 7pm. We need a huge turn-out, as all media (print, radio and network TV) will be there. Bring as many colleagues as you can, and let's see if we can cram more people into the function room than 2 weeks ago. Also, bring your hospital IDs.
As mentioned in previous updates, there will be a series of short presentations, leading into a discussion about all our options, what to do if a contract offer is placed in front of you and how to resist undue pressure to sign - this last part will be presented by our lawyers.
In other news, most of you would have heard about what Chris Davis has done over the last 2 days - standing up to his LNP colleagues over these contracts. Since then, there has been some deliberate confusion of his stance, but we understand he is resolutely standing by his original letter. Please click here to view the original letter. We will see what happens over the next day or two with interest, but we will stay focussed on staying united and supporting the campaign.
Released 28 Feb 2014
1. Pineapple Meeting
Pineapple Meeting, Wednesday 5th March @ 7pm
Location: Pineapple Hotel
Please RSVP if you are attending and try to bring someone new along to the meeting.
There will be discussion about what options we have and the key dates we need to know about (the lawyers will help out with this). We know people are keen for details of the action plan and these will be provided on the night. We will also be voting on a resolution about the action plan to move forward from here.
Senior doctors from regional hospitals are flying down (at their own expense) to address the meeting and share the feeling from around the state.
Minister Springborg has also been invited to speak for part of the meeting (unsure if he will show). The media will be there again.
Also, these meetings are being paid for out of our own pockets (total of a few thousand dollars now), so if you would like to contribute $10-20 on the night to help offset these costs, that would be greatly appreciated!
2. Rallies at Cairns, Townsville
The rallies in Cairns and Townsville were very successful with good publicity and media coverage. We need to get behind these when they come to our individual hospitals, and also financially with contributions to the ASMOF Fighting Fund.
Account Name: ASMOF–Queensland Fighting Fund
Account Number: 10446032
The roadshow is coming to south-east Queensland, so have a look at this webpage to find out when it is coming to your hospital - please let your colleagues and other health professionals know, and make sure you support these events in large numbers:
3. AMAQ is back on track
There have been 2 communiques from AMAQ over last 2 days.
26th Feb: Dan O'Gorman (Senior Counsel) criticises the "contracts" as "draconian" and AMAQ urges SMOs not to sign the SMO contract in the current form.
Latest legal advice pours cold water on individual doctors contracts - 26 February 2014
27th Feb: letter advising members that Dr Shaun Rudd will immediately assume full responsibility as the sole public spokesperson and media contact for all public comment from AMAQ. Christian Rowan will not be making any public statements or representations concerning AMAQ's view going forward.
Released 24 Feb 2014
1. Pineapple forum
The next Pineapple Group forum will be held on Wednesday 5th March at 7pm. Please save this date and time in your schedules - we will confirm details in the near future (when these come out, please RSVP and bring your IDs on the night). We would like each attendee from last week to bring someone new next week - let's keep networking with our peers.
At this forum, we will present all your options in response to the contracts. Please, do not sign the contract (or resign) until you have heard what we have to say. It is absolutely vital to attend and provide you feedback on the various options.
2. Roadshow starting tomorrow
The roadshow will start tomorrow with a rally at Cairns Hospital - look out for it in the media.
Here is a report from a recent meeting in Cairns:
Michael Cleary and the contract team saw the anger and moral outrage of 120 SMOs and VMO in the Cairns. Contrary to their goal of reassurance, their motherhood statements and evasion of specific issues (HED overriding contract, lack of independent binding arbitration and unfair dismissal) has only served to harden the resolve of the senior doctors here.
Consultants from all specialties voiced their intention to resign before they sign - this decision was made independently. The QH team avoiding answering specific questions and wasted time talking about KPIs - what are the use of KPIs if doctors leave?. They brought Dr Dennis Lennox along (involved rural GP training) who said we should sign because to fight is too hard, just submit and you will survive. If he is an example of the kind of doctor QH wants, they can get stuffed.
There is not one department/speciality/rural hospital that is prepared to buckle...
3. Health service email discussion groups
These email discussion groups are already in place at a number of health services like Townsville, Metro South and Gold Coast.
We are establishing a discussion group in Metro North. Please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to join. Our aim is to stop emailing people individually and allow your local hospital network to distribute our information.
Please consider forming one at your hospital if there isn’t one already.
4. Did Christian Rowan do what...?
Finally, we know that there is a provocative photo of Christian Rowan signing a contract that is making some circulation - we think there is a deliberate ploy by people to sow more division amongst us and to distract our focus by getting us to attack & criticise AMAQ.
We need to stay focussed and thwart this attempt at division - AMAQ are having a meeting this week and will sort this issue out, so we will see what will happen over the next day or two. Dr Steve Hambleton (AMA federal) and Dr Sean Rudd (incoming AMAQ president) have both publicly reaffirmed their rejection of the contracts in their current form and asked for re-negotiation.
Let us fight together for a better contract, one that would be far superior to the one Christian signed! Let us use this attempt at a media stunt as fuel to strengthen our resolve and fight even harder.
Released 23 Feb 201
1. TIME TO PAY UP
The current total of funds in the ASMOF Fighting Fund is still far below what we would like for this stage of the campaign. $1000 (pro-rata for part-timers) is seriously a TINY investment into the future of your employment conditions with Queensland Health, particularly when divided over 10-20 years. So, get on to your internet banking, and please transfer funds ASAP - they are badly needed. Also consider union membership if you are not with a union currently.
Account Name: ASMOF–Queensland Fighting Fund
Account Number: 10446032
We cannot win this without your support - we need your financial support, and we need your help engaging with your colleagues, writing to MPs etc.
It's not just enough to read these emails, and turn up to meetings - we need to follow it with ACTION.
Our opponents are relying on us to be lazy, ignorant and apathetic, but our public hospitals and our patients are depending on us to STAND UP & ACT.
2. REDCLIFFE BY-ELECTION
So, last night saw a swing of over 16% against the LNP in Redcliffe, which has been described as "an enormous swing".
Clearly, Newman is reeling from this, saying "We understand that many of you feel that we perhaps haven't listened enough...that we haven't consulted you. I pledge this evening to listen to that message - we hear it. We will observe it, and we will do things differently as we go forward."
Thanks to all those who have sent an email to MPs, if you haven't already done so, please consider doing it, using our pro-forma and send to all MPs (click here, and just cut and paste the entire list into the "To:" field of your email). Do this now so it will be there first thing Monday morning.
If you have sent an email to just your local MPs, please consider sending it to the other MPs because this issue is not just a local one - it affects the whole state. Then, they can take this into the meeting tomorrow and to challenge the Premier and Health Minister to re-open negotiations.
3. MEDIA LINKS
Labor's Yvette D'Ath wins Redcliffe by-election as Campbell Newman blames Scott Driscoll:
(Published in the Courier Mail 22 Feb 2014)
"Mr Newman and Ms Dooley were confronted at polling booths across the electorate by doctors complaining about proposed new workplace contracts and opponents of the Government's bikie laws."
Medical specialists unhappy with proposed new contracts threaten Newman Government with mass resignations:
(Published in the Courier Mail 23 Feb 2014)
Redcliffe by-election: New MP Yvette D'Ath says Labor win proves voters 'angry' with Campbell Newman:
(Published ABC News 24 Feb 2014)
Queensland doctors threaten mass walkout of public hospital sytem:
(Published Courier Mail 18 Feb 2014)
Released 21 Feb 2014
1. Email MPs THIS WEEKEND
Our campaign to write to and visit our MPs is paying off hugely - many LNP MPs have been kept completely in the dark about the "contracts" and the response that senior doctors are getting after visiting their MPs is highly encouraging. Some have been completely turned around from being intially aggressive to completely sympathetic, for example saying at the end "you know I have to say that I actually agree with you and I can see what you mean now".
There is a big party meeting on Monday about health, so we need each and every one of you to email your MP (or just email all MPs) with a simple letter to reinforce the unanimous opposition to these "contracts" and also show these MPs that we are not "hysterical", nor are we a "minority" - so they can take this feeling into the Monday meeting and have the power to re-opening negotiations. Remember, the MPs are the decision-makers and they are the ones we need to ultimately convince.
We have attached a PDF of MP email addresses from which you should be able to cut and paste easily.
This should take you 5-10 minutes of your time - so please do this for us - we need your support right now for this very important task. If you have already sent a letter, send a follow-up one.
Please trust us when we say that it is very important you do this now, even though you may not see it as such. We want to fill all the email inboxes of all the MPs with our letters asking for re-opening of negotiations.
Here is a sample letter: (feel free to modify)
I am a senior doctor of xx years. I am deeply concerned about the unfair and unreasonable contracts which are being currently offered as they represent a significant loss of conditions from my current employment contract. These include an inadequate process for dispute resolution (with no independent, binding arbitration), loss of unfair dismissal protections and the ability for my employer to demand that I work unreasonable hours (eg permanent night shift) or move around my location of work, all against my will.
Furthermore, these are not contracts at all because they can be changed at any time without my agreement by a directive from Queensland Health. They have been condemned by AMAQ, federal AMA, ASMOFQ, federal ASMOF and Together Union. Legal advice has been not to sign these contracts.
Senior doctors in hospitals all across Queensland have voted unanimously against these contracts, and a recent meeting at the Pineapple Hotel this week saw over 500 senior doctors from Nambour, Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba and the Gold Coast meet to express their opposition to these contracts as they stand. The overwhelming majority of senior doctors cannot sign these contracts willingly, and if they do not sign, then they will lose a third of their income.
I request that you take my concerns to the Health Minister and the Premier, and ask that they re-engage with senior doctors in good faith to find a solution to this problem.
Yours sincerely, ........
The Redcliffe by-election is tomorrow. We still need doctors (SMOs, VMOs and registrars) to turn up to polling booths to hand out how to vote cards putting the LNP last.
This is because the larger the swing against the LNP on Saturday, the more pressure they will feel and the more likely they will return to the table. Even if you are a staunch LNP supporter (still), remember this will not affect their huge majority currently, but it will send a clear message and gain us leverage to get fair and reasonable contracts.
You only have to contribute a few hours whenever during the day it is convenient - contact Corey McCann on 0413 652 115 ASAP, and he will direct you where to go. All the necessary campaign materials will be provided, including shirts. Bring a hat, sunscreen and water bottle on the day, and perhaps keep an umbrella handy just in case. The primary Together booth will be located at Salvation Army Community Hall at 64-72 Ashmole Road in Redcliffe. You can bring your kids and make a day trip out of it after your campaigning.
Pineapple Group Meeting Report: Released 21 Feb 2014
Last night saw the reformation of the Pineapple Group as more than 500 senior doctors packed the function room of the Pineapple Hotel to show their strong opposition to the "contracts" and the manner with which they are being implemented. It was a strong show of solidarity including a willingness to put aside any potential divisive issues between SMOs and VMOs, and join forces to fight this campaign. The strength and the resolve of a united group of public doctors was clearly palpable in the room and reinforced the fact that if we stay together and think of "we" rather than "me", we will withstand any attempt to divide us, strike fear in us or induce panic. There will be another meeting organised in 2-4 weeks (probably Wed night again) depending on how the campaign progresses (see the launch video on http://keepourdoctors.com.au/)
From Newman's mouth - "doctors will cave and sign contracts, people will just look after themselves". This is rather insulting that he would denigrate us as such selfish individuals, we would not be able to stand together with our colleagues and reject what is happening not only to us, but the threat to the entire health system. We will prove him wrong.
All that is required for evil to triumph, is that good men and women do nothing. We all have some way we can contribute. We have included some tips on lobbying your MP (thanks to Together Union) - please keep applying pressure to your MPs because they are the only ones who can make the necessary decisions to solve this crisis. All the LNP MPs are being called in on Monday for a health briefing so if you could try to speak or visit your MP before then (many will have Saturday morning sessions) so we can at least try to give them some balanced information before they are brainwashed with their party spin.For those who want to get involved in the Redcliffe by-election by manning poll-booths, please contact Kate.Flanders@together.org.au
If there is a massive swing against the LNP at Redcliffe on Saturday, then this will put more pressure on them.
Join ASMOFQ or Together (or both) and contribute to the ASMOF Fighting Fund. A $1000 contribution is less than your Option A payment for one full week's work, and is "an investment in the future of our health system". (these are your words, not ours)
Don't sign, there's time. The 30th April is a self-imposed deadline by them and we do not have to pay any attention to it.
Report from Toowoomba - "four senior doctors from the HHS were asked by the EDMS on Tuesday to sign contracts on Wednesday in front of DG and media. All four declined and the DG visit was cancelled." They are panicking as a direct result of the pressure we are applying right now, and we need to keep ramping this pressure up. It is possible similar attempts may be made at other HHS's so be aware - warn your colleagues, particularly those who may be on visas and therefore more vulnerable.
And finally, a posted comment on the smoqld.org website regarding Fighting Fund contributions:
"I paid mine. Some people I know paid theirs. The vast majority have paid nothing. To all you out there who are bludging on your friends and colleagues, wake up to yourselves. This is real, this is now, and if you don't help you have a career of regret to come when you are asked what you did to stop the power crazed LNP. Sign or don't sign, you are going to lose money anyway. All they are holding out to you is a year of the same pay as you get now. Then the cuts will appear and there will be no one to blame but yourself. Fight it now: pay the cost of a decent weekend away into the fighting fund and know that you have helped stop this outrageous power grab."
Account Name: ASMOF – Queensland Fighting Fund
Account Number: 10446032
Message/Reference: “member levy” or “(your membership no.)” or ”non member” (or whatever you like)
If you or your department is considering resigning, please contact us or your union first. There is substantial appetite for this and it can be co-ordinated to have maximum effect.
ASEM supports ED doctors considering resigning individually or as a department rather than be forced into a contract which would abrogate basic rights as a public hospital employee which in fact would not apply to other staff employed by the same organisation. We support ASMOFQ, AMAQ and Together in this campaign.
With the latest QH letter, people are feeling that inappropriate time pressure is being placed on us. The letter says that you will be given seven days to consider your contract and then sign. Metro South is saying that they won’t extend the contract offer beyond April 30, and the offer will be withdrawn. Note: it is actually our intention that they withdraw the offer of the current contract - because we demand a better one! It is clear the Government is now panicking and imposing totally unfair deadlines in an attempt to make us panic and sign up frantically.
We have heard that many individuals and even departments are planning resignations. Mass resignation is the only powerful and legal option that we have and must be utilised effectively (the legality has been confirmed by our lawyers). The current strategy is to engage the public and put pressure on the politicians, primarily through the campaign, but we
Pineapple Group is BACK
1. Pineapple Group is BACK - Meeting Wed 19th Feb, 7pm at Pineapple Hotel (function room)
BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: PINEAPPLE GROUP has been reborn for 2014!
Special Meeting at the Pineapple Hotel
Wednesday 19th February at 7pm
Function Room (upstairs from Park Bar)
706 Main St, Kangaroo Point QLD 4169
ALL SMOs, VMOs and registrars from all QH hospitals are invited to attend.
(we are expecting a few hundred to attend)
Senior doctors all across Queensland have opposed the "contracts" as they stand and we will discuss how we are going to respond to this massive threat to the public health system.
This meeting has been organised by senior doctors (not by any of the organisations) to allow us to link together to work out how we will move forward on this issue - it is all getting very serious right now, and we need to bring everyone in on the latest developments.
Feeling depressed about what is happening? Not sure about your options? Worried what other doctors plan to do? We will address your questions and concerns at the meeting in an open forum.
It seems that the Government is trying to pull out all stops to force us to sign these contracts - they are not succeeding (e.g. release of 2nd A-G report was rather meek) and their desperation indicates that they are the ones panicking - we must remember that we hold the power; they need us more than we need them; if we walk away in big numbers, they will come rushing back with a better deal (it happened in South Australia after a mass resignation campaign, it happened with the VMOs a few years ago in Queensland, and it happened with the first Pineapple Group about 10 years ago)
2. ASMOF campaign to start next week
The official campaign will start mid-next week leading in to the Redcliffe by-election. For those who are frustrated that there has not been enough media publicity so far, please ensure that you have donated to the ASMOF fighting fund (see http://smoqld.org/?page_id=118 for more details) because the limiting step has been the collection of money to fund this campaign.
Also, there are many other things individuals can be doing:
* Engage your colleagues/departments/hospitals
* We need you to form networks of email lists so we can reach everyone
(start with your department and then link with other departments - private email addresses only)
* We need to organise ourselves
(it is much easier and quicker than waiting for AMAQ or unions to do this for us)
* Visit your MP
* Join a union (ASMOFQ/Together)
* Contribute to ASMOF Fighting Fund
* Get involved in Redcliffe by-election to highlight the issue of what is happening to our public health system (see http://doctorsforqueensland.org.au for more details)
* And don't sign...demand a better deal!
3. Other stuff...
Together Union have put together a nice website (prettier than ours) which has some useful information: http://doctorsforqueensland.org.au
Steve Hambleton (federal AMA President) speaks out against contracts (youtube clip)
Stay positive, stay strong, stay together...see you next Wednesday
Nothing here is impossible Mr Springborg
Released 8th March 2014
Dear Minister Springborg and Premier Newman,
We have been told that your legislative changes are irreversible, and the train carrying these individual contracts has already pulled out of the station, and cannot be stopped.
We sincerely hope that your talks with the SMO representatives around the concerning issues in the contracts result in a successful outcome for all.
If SMOs are not convinced that our ability to continue to practice public health medicine with safety is secured, then the state will be in grave danger of losing its' brightest and best.
Please listen: We say to you that nothing in your legislation, and the individual contracts, is irreversible. This train wreck can most certainly be stopped.
You are dealing with a group of people who understand what is truly irreversible and impossible, as they have stood in the face of death and tried to stare death down, bargained against time with their knowledge, skills, equipment and courage, and sometimes failed, and often times not.
When you have to tell parents that their child has autism and intellectual impairment and that their lives will forever be filled with difficulty and challenge, and watch their grief unfold - that is irreversible.
When you watch a child bleed to death before your eyes as you pump blood in their arm only to see it pour out of the gaping hole in their skull, where it has been sheared off from a motor vehicle accident -
that is irreversible.
When you tell parents that their baby has cerebral palsy and will never walk or talk, or even eat independently, because their brain is scarred from a lack of oxygen during birth - that is irreversible.
Nothing here with your individual contract legislation is impossible to change - we'll tell you what is impossible.
When parents beg you to save a child's life after a second failed bone marrow transplant for leukaemia, as you're watching them die from an infection they have no white blood cells left to fight - that is impossible.
When you're trying to bring back a heart beat in a child who has been pulled from the bottom of a pool, an hour after it's heart beat stopped - that is impossible.
Don't you dare sit there and tell us that this legislation is irreversible and that stopping this contract roll out is impossible. Because we know that all it takes is a show of hands in a parliamentary room, and the swipe of a pen across a piece of paper.
No fancy machines, no million dollar drugs, no transplanted tissues, no 12 hour operations, and no miracles of fate.
Just understanding and good will from your colleagues and yourselves. And if you're up all night to achieve that, then welcome to our lives.
We have each others' backs, us medicos - we always have and always will.
Because we have all stood there with the sick and the dying, and we know how lonely that journey is without colleagues at our shoulders, and support and resources at our backs.
So we will stand together, even if we have to walk away, together - until you listen, and pull on the brakes, and stop this train wreck from playing out to it's end.
Please enter the discussions with good will, and open minds and hearts, and leave your egos on the coat rack outside.
The health of the state is in your hands - please don't throw it away.
A Group of Senior Medical Officers, Queensland.
PS To all of our colleagues - please don't walk away or sign just yet - stand at our shoulders because we've got your backs.
PPS Please someone send this to every QLD SMO.
AMA URGES QUEENSLAND DOCTORS TO REJECT DODGY CONTRACTS
AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, is urging all Queensland hospital doctors to reject
Queensland Government contracts in their current form and is calling on the Queensland
Government to return to the negotiating table in good faith to reach a fair and balanced
Legal Advice Pours Cold Water on Individual Contracts
Released 26 Feb 2014
AMA Queensland has received further legal advice confirming the unfairness and unreasonableness of the individual contracts proposed for SMOs in Queensland.
Senior Counsel Dan O’Gorman describes it as a “draconian contract of employment” and reiterates our key concerns about the unprecedented stripping away of fundamental employment rights.
We strongly recommend you read the advice in full here.
Paragraph 2 in particular summarises the changes to your employment should you proceed to sign or not sign the contract.
If you do not have time to read the document, these are some key parts:
1. The State is able to offer these contracts only after legislating that a number of significant provisions of the Industrial Relations Act 1999 will not apply to SMOs who sign a contract.
2. The State is attempting to unilaterally introduce significant changes to the terms and conditions of employment of SMOs in Queensland, changes that will simply strip away some basic employee rights.
3. There is nothing that guarantees that SMOs will not be worse off under the contract.If the State believes that SMOs will not be any worse off under the contract, it would be easy for the Minister for Health, or for another senior person on behalf of the State, to make a statement to that effect.
4. Remuneration – Remuneration payable under the contractis incapable of precise calculation.
5. Termination - SMOs can be arbitrarily dismissed and unfair dismissal provisions will no longer apply.
6. Dispute resolution –SMOs will no longer have recourse to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission and no other dispute resolution process is provided.
7. Shift work – SMOs may be required to undertake shift work and extended rosters and the State may vary or amend rosters or shifts as required by the service. Penalty rates are absorbed into vaguetiered remuneration arrangements. Overtime and recall may only be paid on an exception basis (which is not defined).
8. Directives and Contracts – The contracts are subject to any applicable Directives. It is not known whether any other Directives (apart from the current Directive which requires that SMOs be engaged under the contracts) will be issued at any stage that might affect SMOs who sign the contract.
9. No certainty – SMOs are to a large extent required to take the State on trust in a number of areas. For example, the State has unilateral power to vary the contract in relation to a number of matters including remuneration, hours of work and performance review.
Mr O’Gorman suggests a number of changes are needed to make the contract more in line with modern employer/employee relationships including:
1. Aspects of the contract that have not yet been determined should be determined and the details provided to SMOs before they are requested to sign the contract.
2. The State should disclose whether it intends to issue any further Health Employment Directives that might affect SMOs’ contracts.
3. The remuneration package should be made more certain and, importantly, by outlining how the remuneration to be paid pursuant to Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4 of the SMO’s Total Remuneration Framework is to be calculated.
4. The State should confirm or deny whether SMOs are, in reality, being forced to enter the contract, in that, not to do so could result in termination of his/her employment with consequential loss of entitlements.
5. The State should outline the types of circumstances in which SMOs could be arbitrarily dismissed, especially in view of the following comments of Lord Millett of the House of Lords:
“Contracts of employment are no longer regarded a purely commercial contracts entered into between free and equal agents. It is generally recognised today that “work is one of the defining features of people’s lives” and that “loss of one’s job is always a traumatic event;” and that “it can be especially devastating” when dismissal is accompanied by bad faith…”
In light of this advice, AMA Queensland continues to urge members not to sign the SMO contract in its current form, after considering your personal situation including individual risks.
Public support for our campaign is growing through media coverage and via the ASMOF website of keepourdoctors.com.au.
Please share the link and encourage your networks to get behind the public health system.
AMA Queensland remains confident a workable, acceptable contract can be achieved if Queensland Health returns to the consultation table.
For more information visit www.amaq.com.au; call the AMA Queensland contract information hotline - 1300 356 155 or the ASMOF hotline -1300 362 193
QH Contracts - Co-ordinating Responses
Principles of the response
There is UNIVERSAL OPPOSITION to the contracts in their current
form by the AMAQ, AMA federal, ASMOFQ, ASMOF federal and Together union.
A taskforce has been formed including ASMOF, Together, Hall Payne Lawyers, Essential Media Communications and a large number of interested & motivated individuals to run a campaign against these contracts. The goal is to rectify the major issues that still remain.
The campaign requires a multifaceted approach
networking and communicating with SMOs and VMOs about the problems;
lobbying the Newman Government, as well as the Opposition & Independents;
informing the public about how the public health system will be eroded in Queensland; and
negotiating a new enterprise agreement under the federal Fair Work Act, taking our industrial relations out of Campbell Newman’s hands.
Negotiating a new enterprise agreement in the federal jurisdiction is a very powerful lever to deal with the Queensland government. But to do this, we need the majority of doctors to work with us and we need time. Remember that if you sign, you sign away the right to EVER have an enterprise agreement so we need time to achieve the right contract.
What the government wants to do:
Work out the KPIs
Work out how much overtime you do
Plug this into the contract
Force you to sign
Gradually squeeze your conditions and pay
How to respond to the contracts:
Delay is key right now. We need one clear message to come from all SMOs:
"I have a number of concerns about the contract. I cannot negotiate or sign at present because I don’t have enough information to make an informed decision."
Queensland Government wants all contracts signed and locked in by the end of April. The longer we delay and don’t sign, the more pressure it puts on the government to really negotiate - especially as there is a state election coming later this year.
How to respond in more detail!
If you are asked to discuss KPIs:
Ask for the governance documents covering KPIs (some health services might have prepared these, but we haven’t seen any officially). These documents will tell you:
the performance criteria you will be measured by
how clinical, business, teaching, research, and quality assurance KPIs should be used
how much they plan to cut your pay if you don’t achieve them
Advise your HHS that it is unreasonable to be involved in determining KPIs or sign the contract unless you know exactly how you will be affected.
If you get asked about your overtime / on-call / recall / Tier 2:
Ask your HHS for
the modelling that has been performed on your PAST overtime (this has been done for all of us)
the modelling that has been done on your FUTURE roster pattern (this hasn’t been done)
the calculator that allows you to work out your Tier 2 allowance (the calculator isn’t finished)
If you get asked to meet about your contract:
Use the AMAQ letter as a template.
a draft contract which contains the Service offer including
my position description;
the duties including the % clinical support time;
the level of my position;
the Key Performance Indicators relevant to my employment;
the performance criteria
the total remuneration, and its component parts, being offered by the service;
details of how the components of my remuneration have been calculated;
the private practice arrangements that will be offered to me by the service;
a copy of each policy relevant to the operation of the contract;
a copy of each directive relevant to the operation of the contract;
a copy of the relevant provisions of the Applied Public Service Law to the operation of the contract.
In addition to these AMAQ recommended questions, it is worth asking about:
How much time will be provided for administration, teaching, research and quality assurance? It is likely that these will form part of your KPIs so you will need time to achieve them. You need this in writing for Annexure A of the contract.
The expected future changes to your roster? In particular, are they planning on starting an extended hours roster with evening or weekend work? Are they planning to start night shift work or proximate call? Are they going to do waiting list reduction work on weekends or evenings? When will this start and how will all of this be remunerated? How will the roster be fairly distributed between SMOs and VMOs?
What are the planned Health Employment Directives? If you sign this contract, it is worth knowing what parts of your employment conditions are likely to change in the next few years.
Changing your employment to a VMO. As a VMO, you won’t be financially penalised if you don’t achieve your KPIs so may be more attractive.
How the KPIs that will be applied to VMOs in your department. Equity and harmony in the workplace will be important.
This will give them something to do for a while. Advise them that you need all the appropriate information to then obtain independent advice and make an informed decision about the contracts. All of this needs to be in WRITING because you may wish to make a claim for breach of contract in the future.
While you wait for their response, contact your union or local industrial lawyer.
Hall Payne Lawyers: are working for ASMOF
Maurice Blackburn: are working for some groups
Queensland Law Society may be able to refer you to a local legal firm: http://www.qls.com.au/For_the_community/Find_a_solicitor
We aren’t recommending any particular lawyer, but these are firms that are already involved. We are happy to add more law firms to the list. It is best to go with an industrial lawyer that specifically has health sector experience.
Remember, the goal here is to be united in delaying signing while the campaign mobilises.
AMA Queensland: Update on Individual Contracts
Last night the Department of Health released their contracts onto their website.
To be absolutely clear, AMA Queensland and the Federal AMA are steadfastly opposed to these contracts in their current form.
We maintain that the contract framework is unfair, unbalanced and disadvantages all SMOs, as confirmed by legal advice. The proposed contracts will discourage doctors from working in the Queensland health system, and this would hurt our patients by further limiting their access to high quality medical services.
Both the Federal AMA and AMA Queensland are urging the State Government to rethink its position and reopen negotiations with AMA Queensland. We will continue pushing for this outcome and we will continue to publicly highlight the unfairness of the current contracts and the damage they will cause our health system.
In the meantime, if you are invited to negotiate a contract by your HHS, we strongly recommend that you:
Politely decline to attend negotiations. A pro forma email is linked to assist with your correspondence.
If you do decide to attend negotiations, take a trade union representative with you;
Refuse to sign anything until you have seen and read a final copy of the contract. Despite numerous requests, Queensland Health is yet to provide doctors with the key information vital to the contracts - for example, KPI requirements, policies applicable to the contract, private practice framework and guidelines, and your individual remuneration.
AMA Queensland is pushing for Queensland Health to provide fair and balanced working conditions by addressing several outstanding concerns, including:
(a) The absence of a binding arbitration process for dispute resolution;
(b) Arbitrary dismissal;
(c) The absence of a no disadvantage clause;
(d) Enforced shift work; and
(e) Tier 3 KPIs being tied to income.
Beyond our strong advocacy, AMA Queensland is working to help members by providing practical advice on the new contract arrangements. If you need assistance, please contact our contract information hotline for more advice on 1300 356 155
AMA Queensland will keep members regularly updated over the coming weeks and months, and will continue to advocate for a fair and reasonable outcome for current and future SMOs to ensure the health system can deliver the very best patient care.
For more information please click here or call the AMA Queensland contract information hotline - 1300 356 155.
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