With the Federal Government’s abolition of limited self-government on Norfolk Island from July last year, workers and community members have faced a great deal of uncertainty.
In particular, the island’s unique workplace relations system was abolished — with workers transitioned to the Australian Fair Work Act — while the former administration was replaced by the Norfolk Island Regional Council, which is underpinned by the NSW Local Government Act.
As a result of this transition, council workers have faced particular uncertainty surrounding their employment conditions, job security, wages, and career development opportunities.
When NIRC staff began negotiating their new enterprise agreement recently, a number of workers contacted the United Services Union for help, expressing their desire to have union representation in these negotiations.
Understanding the unique challenges faced by our members on Norfolk Island, the USU recently sent two officials to meet with council workers, represent their interests, and assist them in the negotiation process.
The next phase of these negotiations will take place next week, on Thursday 27 April, when the USU will be supporting our local delegates from the Island in talks with the NIRC.
The union is mindful of the challenges and constraints facing council, but we firmly believe that it is possible to work closely together to achieve a positive outcome for workers and council.
At the same time, we will be working with council and local delegates to ensure we also deliver for the local community through improved services and greater efficiency.
We are hopeful that this new enterprise agreement can provide for real wage increases and career development opportunities for staff, particularly in light of the financial impacts of having the Australian income tax system implemented last year.
Local workers have faced some major upheaval, which is why our union is extremely proud to have been able to send assistance when it was desperately needed.
As a result of joining the USU, our newest members on Norfolk Island now have the backing of a proud, member-based organisation that has a long and proud history of delivering outcomes for the 30,000 local government, energy, airline and clerical and administrative employees we represent throughout NSW.
Not only is Norfolk Island known as a place of great beauty, unique culture, and incredible history, but your strong sense of community and history of collective action also well recognised.
Those traditions and attributes are exactly what is allowing our newest members to stand together for a fair go at work.
Our union is excited to be able to stand side-by-side with local workers, providing the benefits of our extensive knowledge and experience to ensure they are not left worse off by the governance changes that have been implemented on your island.