Following a week of meetings between Auscript and the USU/ASU and FWC Conferences before Commissioner Yilmaz members would now be aware there has been a successful arbitration of the key outstanding issues in dispute.
Download a copy of the decision and Order issued by the Commissioner. Also arising out of the Order the Joint Consultative Committee met yesterday.
In short the decision handed down by Commissioner Yilmaz was favourable to the USU/ASU’s arguments over the lack of consultation. The Commissioner agreed the Auscipt dispute could not be conciliated any further and that under the Agreement she had the power to arbitrate and issue an Order as the USU/ASU had sought. Paragraph  of the decision sums up her clear intent to use her arbitral powers to the fullest extent in the dispute.
After noting Auscript’s definition of Consultation at paragraph  the Commissioner goes further to inform management about consultation in simpler FWC terms in paragraphs  and  and decides they didn’t really follow any of this. She had concluded that Auscript’s recent behaviour was basically following a decision that had already been made by the Executive to shut the Melbourne office and make a certain number of staff redundant without proper consultation. Paragraph 42 sums up her attitude towards Auscript’s approach to consultation:
42] I am not satisfied that the participation of Auscript in conciliation before the Commission was genuine. Auscript verbally gave its commitment to the agreed statement, that it would genuinely consider alternatives to redundancy, but it concealed its decision to make redundant 58 permanent positions. Auscript’s actions can be described as a mere formality in so far as its decision to make the 58 employees redundant was already made throughout what it describes as its “consultation period”. This decision became only apparent when the CEO from the US joined the conference on 3 April 2020.
Further it was revealed that employees that volunteered would be immediately terminated on Monday 6 April 2020, and the balance of the 58 permanent positions would be informed of their redundancy on 7 April 2020. When questioned how the balance would be selected, Auscript advised that it would select based on performance and if individuals had been subject to performance improvement processes. No further detail was shared, nor was it offered. It was apparent that such decisions had been made by Auscript before they were disclosed to the ASU and therefore any real opportunity for the ASU, its members or employees to influence Auscript’s decision making did not exist.
The Commissioner concluded Auscript had not genuinely consulted with its employees nor the USU/ASU contrary to the Enterprise Agreement requirement and based on the balance of convenience she would issue an Order to address this.
Unfortunately the Melbourne office closure will now proceed.
However there remain options for Melbourne staff as compulsory redundancies cannot be announced until the Commissioner’s Order requirements are followed through first as follows:
• Current Voluntary Redundancy (VR) applicants to be processed as early as 6 April;
• Compulsory redundancies not to be implemented until the following paragraphs are implemented;
• Extended offer of VR to all staff;
• Melbourne office to close and staff to be informed of the date of closure;
• Brisbane and Eight Mile Plains offices to have further cost cutting measures to be raised at JCC meetings this week including a VR offer;
• At least two JCC meetings this week – One was held today between 10 am and 12 noon and the second on Thursday starting at 10 am;
• Auscript to share information on numbers & locations;
• Selection for compulsory redundancy information to be discussed and agreed and shared with the USU/ASU
• Regular updates to staff
There was some progress at the meeting and agreed outcomes were as follows:
• 7 April notes/minutes to be circulated;
• ASU delegates feedback on staff preferences to be made available;
• Financial modelling to be provided to the USU/ASU;
• Incentive for more VRs;
• CPI increases discrepancies to be discussed and agreed
• Details of JobKeeper payment to be made available to management once Parliament passes the relevant legislation tomorrow and management will now factor this into their decisions.
For more information, please get in touch with USU Organiser Emily Callachor on 0417 420 924 or firstname.lastname@example.org