INDUSTRIAL ACTION ON HOLD, CONDITIONAL AGREEMENT ON KEY ELEMENTS, NEGOTIATIONS TO CONTINUE & MEMBERS TO HAVE FINAL SAY.
On 1 February 2018, the combined union delegates met at Ausgrid HOB to discuss Ausgrid’s final Enterprise Agreement negotiated offer. In summary the offer consists of the following key elements;
- $1600 upfront cash payment and a 2.75% wage increase on a successful employee yes vote;
- 2.5% on the first anniversary (Year 2) of Agreement certification.
- 2.25% on the second anniversary (Year 3) of Agreement certification.
Redundancy, Redeployment & Salary Maintenance
Up to 30 June 2020:
A one-off incentive payment of $75,000 for all people in redeployment as at September 2017, and anyone else who enters redeployment up to 1 January 2020. Redeployees will have 3 weeks to accept or reject the payment. Those who reject it will permanently lose entitlement to any such payment.
From 1 July 2020:
Up to 250 remaining redeployees can be made forcibly redundant if they do not take a VR. Those who are forcibly redundant lose entitlement to the 8 weeks’ notice period payment.
From 2 July 2020:
A global cap of 250 for both voluntary and forced redundancies per annum, subject to consultation and processes of seeking VRs first. i.e. There can be no more than 250 redundancies per year of either forced and / or voluntary type.
Apprentices / Trainees / Cadets
Ausgrid have committed to take on 35 Apprentices / Trainees / Cadets per annum for the life of the Agreement.
Contracting out / Outsourcing
On top of the existing clause provisions, a consultative committee comprising unions and Ausgrid management will be formed to have oversight of any work that is contracted out / outsourced and input into Ausgrid’s preferred panel of contractors.
Largely unchanged, however consultation will be necessary when a “significant effect” test as defined in the clause has been met.
Dispute Settlement Process
Time frames for dispute escalation have been included. This measure ideally sees the dispute process expedited without unnecessary delay. The inserted timeframes are, however, subject to extension by agreement of the parties.
The status quo provision still applies; however, it will apply when it can be shown to disadvantage the employee/s affected, or if the non-application of status quo during the dispute would bias the case for the dispute at hand.
Career Capability and Remuneration (CCR) framework Appendix
The CCR framework is now in its third version and thanks to the negotiating delegates is far removed and improved from the original proposal. That said, much work is needed on it before it comes into operation. To that end, the current structure of the CCR is as follows;
- CCR applies from December 2018;
- Pay points at transition have largely been set;
- The “Market rates” which were a feature of the earlier versions have now been abolished and pay rates have been set in line with current pay levels.
- No one loses money on transition into the framework. Everyone is “grad parented” across to the new system in December 2018 on their rate of pay plus allowances at that time.
- ESR allowance will be rolled in to the hourly rates and Electricians Licence will remain a stand alone separate all purpose allowance.
- The inclusion of a “soft merit” appointment concept to facilitate a more streamlined career path where previous versions of the CCR contained too many “hard” merit appointment hurdles.
- The Appendix is to contain tight consultation guidelines with respect to the development of the soft merit concept and the definition of what “meeting” and “exceeding expectation” will mean in practice. This consultation will also determine the development of the Work Level Standards. Work Level Standards won’t be altered as a means of halting progression or lowering pay and unions will have input into these Work Level Standards.
Other Agreement changes;
- Method of payment – people currently on weekly pay will be moved to fortnightly.
- Annual Leave – Taking of Annual Leave at half pay will only be possible if;
a) Your leave balance is less than 320 hrs = 40 days (i.e. you can’t have more than 2 years leave accrued to take Annual Leave at half pay and
b) A minimum of 2 weeks annual leave at half pay is taken.
- A one-off option to cash out annual leave provided you have a minimum Annual Leave balance of 160 hrs.
- All Long Service Leave must be taken for a minimum period of 1 week or more. In order to take LSL at half pay you must have an LSL balance of 13 weeks or less. i.e; any accrual beyond the10-year amount cannot be taken at half pay.
- Sick Leave occasions without a certificate for people with 5 or more years of service have been reduced from 7 occasions to 4 occasions. i.e. aligned with employees with less than 5 years’ service.
The above proposal was discussed at length and in detail, and various options were canvassed including protected industrial action. The meeting concluded with the following motion;
“That the meeting endorses the in principle offer subject to the following criteria;
- That the upfront payment of $1600 and the first 2.75% increase are payable on a yes vote of employees and
- That the unions retain the right to take protected action if necessary by applying to the Fair Work Commission for an extension to the protected industrial action period of 30 days in accordance with the Act”
It is important to note that the “in principle” endorsement means that the precise and final wording of the Agreement is yet to be agreed.
A report was also provided by Vera Babicheva from the PSA regarding family friendly clauses that Vera was instrumental in having included as part of the Agreement. Vera detailed that one of the outstanding issues was Ausgrid management refusing to accept a proposition for paid leave in the event of miscarriage or stillbirth situations. As a result, the following notion was unanimously endorsed;
The combined unions require that Ausgrid include a cessation of pregnancy clause in the enterprise agreement to protect workers facing situations of miscarriage or stillbirth. The cessation of pregnancy clause should provide that paid parental leave applies to pregnancies that pass 12 weeks’ gestation. The clause should also consider the application of compassionate leave to these situations. Ausgrid’s refusal to include a clause on cessation of pregnancy in the enterprise agreement is morally repugnant and unacceptable.
The resolution on 1 February regarding in principle agreement does not preclude further negotiations on gender equality issues raised by the PSA/CPSU. The combined unions support the claims of the PSA/CPSU and their resolution in the enterprise agreement.
Your negotiating team will now work to finalise the precise and final wording of all clauses including those associated with the CCR after which time another delegates meeting will be held to endorse the document and proceed towards a formal vote subject to final agreement between the parties.
During this period members will be availed of the complete package including the detailed and final CCR proposal.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all members for their ongoing support and patience in what has been the most difficult and protracted Ausgrid negotiation in living memory. We would also like to thank all the delegates and in particular the negotiating committee in their tireless and intelligent effort which has significantly improved this agreement offer from was a totally unacceptable outcome to one which we believe does the job of moving us forward.