On the 31st July we had our third bargaining meeting with MB management. Having tabled and discussed our respective Log of Claims at EBA meeting 2, we are now in a process of exchanging draft clauses, sharing information and having general discussions on wage increases, bonuses, Classification Structures etc.

Regarding classification structures, which are included in our Log at numbers 5 and 23 and MB management Log at numbers 2 and 3 (see attached), we have established a Union/Management EBA sub-committee which will look at revised classification structures now that the Classification Structure Review Committee has virtually finished its job reviewing the Classification Structure Descriptors.

However, despite some progress with negotiations there are 2 issues where the parties seem to be diametrically opposed. Firstly, regarding MB management Log item number 1, where it seeks to exclude some 120 senior employees from being covered by the EBA. Secondly, in its Log number 8 where it seeks to limit the Study Leave clause so it only applies to Law Graduates compared to the current clause which is much more general in its application. The USU/ASU is very uncomfortable with management’s position on these 2 matters.

Member feedback sought on bonuses and attaining gender parity


In the 31 July 2019 EBA meeting, MB management informed the bargaining committee that it wants to abolish bonus payments and place that money in the wages pool for EBA wage increases. It is important to note that at this point we have no sense what the EBA wage increase will actually be.

As a general rule Unions do not support bonuses because they are discretionary and arbitrary in their application and changeable at management’s whim. Also, they do not count for leave or super purposes and thus unions prefer to see any wage payment in the wage rate.

However, the USU/ASU is very aware that some members do receive bonuses and thus we informed management we could not give a response to their proposal and would consult members. Thus we ask that members give any feedback on this issue by answering two quick questions in the link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/X6Z5KYC and/or talk to their delegates or Union Organisers. Members should be assured that no final decision will be made on this matter until we at least know what the EBA wage increase will be for the life of the next agreement.

Gender Pay Parity

The USU/ASU has a Log claim at number 5 for “same pay rates and conditions for all employees in comparable positions (including gender parity)…”. The USU/ASU has asked MB management for figures on gender pay rates at Maurice Blackburn and they reveal that women are paid between 5%- 20.70% less than men. A general discussion was held on how to try to overcome this inequity, including topping up superannuation for women to a greater extent than for men. It was suggested by management that in the next round of EBA wage increases that women could be paid a greater amount than men. Again it must be noted that this was discussed in principle with no figures on what the wage increase difference may be. We informed management that we would need to consult members on this issue as well.

Of course, members should be aware that the USU/ASU is very conscious of the fact that the gender pay gap is often caused by a structural problem, where for example employees are not classified properly or work in comparable roles but women are paid less. Thus it may not be just a matter of positive discrimination regarding wage increases but that structural problems would also have to be addressed in order to truly tackle the gender pay gap.

We need to hear from you!

We ask for member feedback on the principle of closing the gender pay gap by answering the question in the link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/X6Z5KYC and/or this feedback should be given to delegates and Union Organisers.

Join the USU/ASU MB Facebook Group

Members may recall that in our last EBA bargaining round in 2016 we set up a MB Facebook Group for members only where developments concerning the EBA were posted to keep members up to date. There are currently hundreds of members in the Group, but we invite those members who are not already involved to join. It is a private group and you can only join if an existing administrator or delegate accepts your request to join the Group. We have administrators and delegates from many MB offices to ensure USU/ASU members can be approved, but if you have any issues joining the Group please contact Sarah Haar, Organiser from the Victorian Private Sector Branch.

Download the USU/ASU Log of Claims June 2019 

Download the MB Log of Claims July 2019  

If you have any questions about this email or need any assistance at work, please contact me on my mobile 0417 420 924 or via email at ecallachor@usu.org.au or one of the bargaining reps below.

USU/ASU Bargaining Representatives 
• Kara Hill – khill@mauriceblackburn.com.au
• Katherine McCallum – kmccallum@mauriceblackburn.com.au
• Lewis Hamilton – lhamilton@mauriceblackburn.com.au
• Lucy Minter – lminter@mauriceblackburn.com.au
• Mutu Yolbulan – myolbulan@mauriceblackburn.com.au
• Penny Parker – pparker@mauriceblackburn.com.au
• Tim McGinley – tmcginley@mauriceblackburn.com.au