Important update – AMA NSW walk away from the ASMOF/AMA DiT Alliance

11-Oct-2019

 

On Wednesday this week we were informed by AMA (NSW) that they were dissolving the ASMOF/AMA Doctors in Training Alliance. The decision to dissolve the Alliance was a unilateral decision taken by AMA (NSW) and was not supported by ASMOF.

In fact, we were caught by surprise as we have been renegotiating a new agreement with AMA(NSW) since October last year to continue the good work of the Alliance - which since 2013 has delivered many benefits to DiTs in NSW.

The core issue underlying the breakdown of the Alliance is simple, though not the reason put forward by AMA (NSW). Rather, it has been the AMAs’ attempts to secure a greater proportion of DiT membership fees which has made the situation untenable.

As part of this partnership ASMOF (NSW) and AMA (NSW) equitably shared the DiT membership income on a 50:50 basis.

But from late 2018 the AMAs (Federal and NSW) have consistently demanded a two-third share of DiT revenue. The reason for the change, it was argued, was because AMA (NSW) had to deal with “concerns” with Federal AMA about the fee sharing arrangements.

In effect the AMA unilaterally decided that ASMOF could take on a 20-25% reduction in DiT income to help the AMAs’ deal with their internal problems with little to no consideration that this new income split arrangement would incur significant financial loss to ASMOF and would most likely impact on our capacity to continue to provide the excellent industrial services we provide.

This is not a viable proposition for ASMOF, which carries a significantly greater staff investment to provide effective industrial services for DITs and would have put the broader Union at significant financial risk.

Notwithstanding this ASMOF showed our good will, and our commitment to the relationship with the AMA by agreeing to commence negotiations on a revised income sharing arrangement. Our only condition was that any agreement could not expose the Union to significant financial risk. This view was unanimous amongst the ASMOF NSW Council, including our 13 DiT Councillors.

While representatives of ASMOF have attempted, to the best of our ability, to identify a solution in which the proposed revenue split might be viable, we have not been able to do so. Attempts to discuss alternate solutions have been hampered by the inflexible bargaining position by AMA (NSW). As late as this Tuesday we proposed three options to AMA (NSW) in an attempt to keep the Alliance alive. These were rejected by AMA NSW.

In an attempt to support negotiations and pursue an acceptable financial arrangement for both parties, we have been completely transparent in relation to financial reporting and forward modelling. But we have received no detailed financial information from either AMA NSW or AMA Federal to justify the demand for two thirds of Alliance revenue.

Whilst we remain committed to an ongoing effective relationship with AMA NSW we must be realistic that they do not want the partnership to continue.

ASMOF remains 100% committed to continuing its effective support and advocacy to improve the working lives and conditions for DiTs in NSW.

We are the only Union by Doctors, for Doctors, and we are the only organisation that can effectively represent the industrial interests of DiTs in NSW. Our staff will continue to represent DiTs in all collective and individual industrial matters.

The strong DiT representation on the ASMOF NSW Council will continue, with the 13 elected DiT representatives continuing to help determine the ongoing strategic goals of the Union.

We will be exploring options for broader DiT engagement on industrial issues with our Council and we are pursuing the class action on behalf of DiTs.

We have been proud of the work that, collectively, ASMOF and the AMA have done for all DiTs in NSW. That is why it is very disappointing that AMA has decided to denigrate the union and the good work we do for DiTs.

We are also concerned that the AMA may be engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct by claiming they can assist DITs with most industrial issues. In NSW, the AMA cannot enforce the Award and cannot negotiate new conditions for the Award, and AMA (NSW) is also an employer representative organisation for GPs and VMOs.

We hope that this email helps to clarify the series of events leading to the unfortunate dissolution of the Alliance. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our Executive Director, Andrew Holland, via email.