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Award 2017: protecting RDOs from being absorbed into a Public Holiday

NSW Local Government Employers Award Negotiating Group seeks to oppose the USU’s proposed changes to the upcoming 2017 award, that will protect workers from having their Rostered Days Off (RDO’s) absorbed into Public Holidays that fall on a scheduled RDO day.

Why do we need to protect workers’ RDOs from being absorbed into a Public Holiday?

In 2013 Kempsey Shire Council adopted a policy which saw its outdoor workforce employed on a nine day fortnight threatened with the absorption of RDO’s into Public Holidays which fell on the scheduled RDO day.

Through strong opposition by the USU, existing staff were protected however new starters and those staff who changed position in Council who have a nine day fortnight were affected.

After lengthy and expensive court proceedings involving the use of Solicitors and Barristers on both sides the IRC was limited in its ability to totally abolishing this unfair move by Kempsey Council, largely because the 2014 NSW State Award and its predecessors include no reference to RDO’s unlike the Federal Award which provides that where an RDO falls on a Public Holiday, the RDO will be moved to a scheduled working day so as not to be forfeited or absorbed.

The USU, in our Log of Claims, has sought to include a definition for RDO’s and to mirror the Federal Award on this matter, so as to rule out any current or future absorptions of RDO’s by unscrupulous employers when a scheduled RDO falls on a public holiday.

Think about it

Workers have to work additional time over their normal daily scheduled hours to accumulate the time granted and paid for on RDO’s.

It is totally unreasonable to have an accumulated entitlement absorbed when it has been worked for.

Most Council staff in NSW have an RDO system or time in lieu system in place.

No person would ever choose to use their time in lieu on a public holiday, why then should an RDO be required to be taken on a public holiday?

For the employers to oppose the recognition of RDO’s as existing in the award is very unreasonable.

While the majority of employers covered by the award would not likely seek to absorb RDO’s into Public Holidays in the future, there are obviously malicious and unreasonable employers who will, if they can get away with it. Some of these are likely to be on the employer’s award committee now.

The USU is hopeful that when this matter comes before the IRC in upcoming conciliation of the new award, that our strong position and factual argument will see the Commission advise the employers to agree to our request on the issue on the basis of fairness and equity.

USU members should have no doubt though, that there are hard-line employers and members of the Employers’ Award Committee that want to attack long standing fair and reasonable work conditions.

What’s next?
Keep an eye out for further Local Government (State) Award Negotiation updates, and in the meantime speak to your fellow workers and ask if they want to have a say on the future of the Award by voting when the time comes, as only Union members will be voting and have a say when the vote comes in mid 2017 at the over 300 mass meetings that the USU will hold in councils across the state.

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Your rights

If your Council has been amalgamated or affected by a boundary change:

  • Your pay will not change;
  • Your conditions will not change;
  • You cannot be forcibly made redundant for 3 years;
  • You will have first preference in applying for new roles in Council;
  • There are limits on Council’s ability to change your work location.

These are all protections that the USU fought for, and won, for our members in the Local Government Act and the Local Government (State) Award.