We have an offer for the 2014 State Award

The three unions and LGNSW started negotiations for a new 2014 State Award in November last year. The November issue of depaNews contained our 24 point log of claims, the employers had 44, the USU 80 and LGEA, 21. Plenty to talk about.

We always preface these negotiations to manage expectations by saying that this Award has been made by agreement between the employers and the unions since late 1991. Variations have been by agreement - although there have been a number of occasions when some issues could be resolved and we all agreed to allow the Commission to determine it.

The Committee of Management has followed the negotiations over the past seven months and at our May meeting considered about 50 proposed changes in a document which, over the intervening months, only got better.

Pay claims this time were made in the context of a 2.5% pay limit for employees of the NSW Government and a view of the Government, waiting on resolution in the High Court, that increases superannuation over the next three years should also come out of that figure.

The National Wage Increase this year was 2.6%, the State Wage Increase was 2.6% and, given that this isn’t really rocket science, if we could keep 2.6% this year untouched by the further 0.25% increase in SGC from 1 July, and similar increases untouched by the 0.5% increase in the SGC from 1 July 2015 and a further 0.5% from 1 July 2016, we would be doing all right. (SGC will continue to rise by 0.5% each year until it hits 12% on 1 July 2019.)

Of course, we all got used to the idea of 3% or a bit more but circumstances change.

Despite a narky, ignorant and ill-conceived assault on the negotiations by the Local Government Poseurs Association, the LGNSW Board on Friday 6 June adopted a package of negotiated changes recommended by their industrial staff after consultation with those representing the boss in the industry.

That means pay increases this year of 2.6% from the first pay period after 1 July, 2.7% from the first pay period after 1 July 2015 and 2.8% from the first pay period after 1 July 2016.
And all these increases are independent of the increases in the Superannuation Guarantee Charge.

Our log of the claims focused on a number of issues which had been problems for us and our members over the life of the 2010 Award. We wanted to see greater commitment from councils to flexible working arrangements for parents and more of an obligation to facilitate these arrangements; we wanted improvements in the role of the consultative committee - to stop brow-beating general managers and HR people bullying employee reps into acquiescence and to oblige the Council to be more consultative on organisational restructuring; clarity about being able to take a redundancy if there is not a job available of comparable skill and accountability levels; reinforcement of the obligation on councils to consult on changes to leaseback arrangements; improvements in adoption leave; special considerations for adoption leave for kids in difficult circumstances and access to sick leave for preventative health and well-being measures. We wanted some pay options for professionals as well to accommodate market pressures and other considerations.

And we’re pretty pleased with the way the negotiations went.

As the Committee Management has been well-briefed over the past seven months, we are continuing the process we have followed for the last few awards - I make a recommendation to the Committee of Management and, in turn, a decision by the Committee of Management to accept or reject the offer (I hope) consistent with my recommendation.

The Committee has unanimously resolved to accept the offer and we now refer the detail of the offer for your information and consideration. The offer is accepted in principle but we are open, as always, to your feedback.

As a final clarification, before you start to read through the list of changes, last week the Fair Work Commission decided there should be a 3% increase in the minimum wage. The minimum wage has never had an effect on the Award negotiations and the increase was actually a flat increase described as a percentage on the existing rate. It doesn’t mean that all workers covered by Federal awards receive a 3% increase. It really is irrelevant to our consideration. Don’t be confused.

There are 60 or so individual changes agreed between the unions and the employers in this package to create a new and improved 2014 Award. Remember, this is a package offer and its components are indivisible.

If you have any questions or concerns (and we’re also happy to hear from those of you who are pleased with the deal, just like we are) you can ring me or email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please take some time to go through the summary which appears below. It’s my summary, it’s the summary that went to the Committee on Friday and while there are changes to 39 separate clauses, some of them contain multiple changes as well. For example, the new clause 39 Workplace Change has lots.

You can use this link to check out the clauses in which you might have more of an interest after you have checked out the summary. It’s a link to the Draft Award in its entirety.

The USU and LGEA will be doing something similar. The USU Executive has already adopted the offer in principle and will be conducting meetings around the state for their members over the next two weeks.

The President of the Industrial Relations Commission Justice Walton has listed the Award application for a hearing on 25 June. Our expectation is that there is no reason why the Commission won’t make the Award as requested by the parties and note that it is made by consent.

Consent to these significant improvements and developments from both the unions and the employers is a great achievement.

 

Proposed changes to the 2014 Local Government (State) Award

1. Clause 2 Statement of Intent

Adds reference to increasing productivity and financial sustainability but more importantly adds to the dotpoints of intention to “promote job security”, the words “and facilitate” so that it reads to “ensure and facilitate flexibility for work and family responsibilities” (one of our claims), encouragement of innovation and, targeting consultative committees, to “promote cooperative and open change management processes”.

2. Clause 4 Definitions

Tidies up the name of LGNSW and, significantly and to remove risks associated with councils setting up bodies to employee under the Fair Work Act and the Modern Award, defines employer as “all employees in local government or in the local government industry within NSW that are covered by clause 43, Area Incidence and Duration of this Award. Clause 4 also makes a minor changes to the definition of ordinary pay to cover hours of work flexibility agreements allowances. (See clause 19 B)

3. Clause 7 Salary System

Clarifies that salary systems may provide for progression based on employee performance and 7(xii) ensures that existing employees cannot be disadvantaged.

4. Clause 11 Payment of Employees

11(iv) requires councils to make payroll deductions for union membership where authorised in writing by the employee and may make payroll deductions for other reasons; at (v) caps the period of time councils are required to maintain salary payments to employees prevented from attending work due to bushfires are other climatic circumstances at one week; and at (vi) allows councils to recover a potential shortfall in workers comp where the insurance payment is less than the sick leave payment. This follows recent changes to workers compensation where injured workers now receive 95% of ordinary time earnings for the first 13 weeks of incapacity.

5. Clause 12 Annualised Salaries

This is a new clause that will allow councils to annualise rates of pay, penalty rates and the monetary value of various other award entitlements.

6. Clause 15 Allowances, Additional Payments and Expenses

“Disability Allowances” have been renamed “Adverse Working Conditions Allowances” and amended to remove ambiguity. Of relevance to our members, (xi) travelling allowances been amended to provide that the allowances now payable for travel in both directions when employers are required to travel to a different work location and the usual; (xv) Civil Liability Allowance clarifies and removes exposure to future underpayment claims; (xvi) provides to accredited Chartered Professional Engineers the provisions that are provided for BPB accreditation and (in response to one of our claims) BPB accreditation obligations on the employer continue “whether  employees are on paid leave and/or unpaid parental leave”.

7. Clause 16 Motor Vehicle Leaseback

B(iii) allows a Council to terminate or suspend an arrangement where the employee is demoted (provided that at least two weeks’ notice is given) and C(iv)clarifies that any variation to leaseback agreements needs to go to the Consultative Committee “before a definite decision is made”.

8. Clause 18 Hours of Work

Allows designated wages staff functions to work on weekends - not us.

9. Clause 19 Overtime

A new subclause (vi) to allow councils to direct employees to take a accrued time in lieu of overtime if they have accrued in excess of one week, or for the purposes of an annual close down.

10. Clause 19B Hours of Work Flexibility Agreements

This is a new subclause that allows councils to reach agreement with employees in Band 3 or Band 4 to incorporate an allowance “of at least 10% of the employee’s salary system rate of pay” in lieu of overtime into ordinary pay. This is a good opportunity for professionals. Nice work, Gordo.

11. Clause 19E Remote Response

Requires councils to pay on-call employees for overtime work they perform remotely responding to callouts over the phone.

12. Subclause 20A General

Needs to be read in conjunction with 21 D (i) but provides five weeks annual leave for employees who are rotating roster employees.

13. Subclause 21A Sick Leave

Provides a discretion for councils to allow employees to take sick leave at half pay under “extenuating circumstances”.

14. Subclause 21B Carers’ Leave

Removes ambiguity by deleting “days” and replacing with “weeks”. This assists part-time employees.

15. Subclause 21C Emergency Services Leave

Provides eligible employees with an entitlement of up to 5 days paid emergency services leave per year of service to participate in designated voluntary emergency management activities. This is debited from the employee sick leave balance, with some restrictions.

16. Subclause 21D Annual Leave

Minor rewording changes to remove ambiguity for seven-day rotating roster employees.

17. Subclause 21E Long Service Leave

Clarifies that the Council may direct employees to take long service leave and also to remove the requirement that long service leave must be taken in minimums of one week.

18. Subclause 21J(ii) Adoption Leave

Increase paid adoption leave to eligible employees who will now be entitled up to 9 weeks paid leave (18 weeks at half pay) when adopting a child under 5 years of age, and four weeks paid adoption leave (eight weeks at half pay) when adopting a child between the ages of 5 and 16. This was one of our claims and the new clause also provides that if the child is between 5 and 16 and “there are special needs and reasons in the child’s life” employer cannot unreasonably refuse to provide the full nine weeks at full pay.

19. Subclause 21(iv) Family Reunion Leave

Again another of our clauses and it provides employees adopted under a “closed” adoption practice with an entitlement of up to 5 days family reunion leave from their sick leave balance to reunite with their biological parents for the first time.

20. Subclause 21K Bereavement Leave

Under the 2010 Award, employees were entitled to four days Bereavement Leave per death but not for the death of an aunt, uncle, niece or nephew. Four days will be available for “immediate family but two days for “extended family”.

21. Subclause 21L(ii) Union Training Leave

Minor amendment to clarify payment. I thought this unnecessary but apparently one part-time employee made a claim for a full-time payment.

22. Subclause 21M Leave Without Pay

Minor change for clarification.

23. Clause 22 Flexibility for Work and Family Responsibilities

One of our claims, this new provision recognises the commitment to flexibility for work and family responsibilities and the need to retain skills and experience and requires employers are “encouraged to develop and promote flexible work and leave arrangements to enable their employees to better manage their work and family responsibilities.”

24. Clause 24 Health and Wellbeing

One of our claims, cruelly described as our Anti-Fatty claim, allows councils at their discretion to provide up to 2 days paid leave per calendar year from the employee sick leave balance for the employee “to participate in a health and/or well-being activity.” “It is anticipated that the leave will be used for proactive preventative health measures, such as to allow employees to attend an annual medical/health check, dental visit and will skin cancer check” but let’s get creative. Two days is just the start.

25. Clause 26 Casual Employment

Clarifies that the loading is paid in lieu of any entitlement to long service leave and other paid leave.

26. Clause 28 Labour Hire

This is a new clause to provide “that an employee of a labour hire business shall not replace an employee of Council on a permanent basis.”

27. Clause 29 Multiple Employment

This will allow councils to employ staff in more than one position under separate contracts. There have been a number of examples of someone who is employed as a full-time employee but also on weekends or seasonally in another job and this resolves any complication.

28. Clause 31 Training and Development

This clause (ii)(c) obliges councils to provide education and training “that enhances career path development” for employees.

29. Clause 32 Consultative Committees

The addition of the words “that encourages a free and open exchange of views” in the Aim of the Committee discourages GM and HR bullies and boofheads. Again, one of our claims but really one of everyone’s.

30. Clause 33 Appointment and Promotion

Now provides a right to an internal job applicant unsuccessful in an application to request “a review of their individual education and training needs”. One of ours.

31. Clause 34 Term Contracts

Allows councils to use term contracts “to temporarily replace employees working reduced hours under flexible work and leave arrangements”, and to “perform seasonal work”, to remove any confusion.

32. Clause 37 Work, Health and Safety

Removes duplication and overlapping with the Work Health and Safety legislation and codes of practice.

33. Clause 39 Workplace Change

Provides obligations on the Council at (b)(1) if there are significant effects on employees, or that result in a reduction in the size of the workforce to notify the union to which the employees may belong “at least 28 days before the change is implemented, unless otherwise agreed”; at (b)(2) provides that notification proposed change can be given either before or after the definite decision and that the union must respond within seven days; at (b)(3) provides that notice to the union “shall not form part of any notice of termination under subclause 39 (v”); allows the Council at (i)(c) to proceed with the change with the consent of the employees where the union has been provided with the seven days’ notice; at (i)(c) to “not unreasonably refuse” a request by employed to work through the notice period and to provide that during this period “priority shall be given to activities that may enable the employee to find employment.” And at (vi) Redundancy some minor wording for clarity. One of our claims, but really everyone’s.

34. What would have been Clause 39 Competitive Tendering has been deleted.

35. Clause 40 Council Agreements

To clarify the process in circumstances in which agreements may be terminated consistent with the provisions of the on the Industrial Relations Act on enterprise agreements - where three months’ notice needs to be given after the nominal term has expired.

36. What would have been clause 38 Award Implementation Committee

Has been deleted as this was intended to be a temporary arrangement after the making of the award in 1992.

37. Clause 42 Leave Reserved

Change includes leave reserved “to apply to vary the award to reflect possible legislative changes to parental leave and fringe benefit tax” and “apply to vary the award to allow for the taking of annual leave at either half or double pay by consent” - this requires changes to be made to the Annual Holidays Act 1944.

38. Clause 43 Area Incidence and Duration

The Award will now apply to corporations controlled by one or more councils and which are declared to be non-national system employers.

39. Rates of Pay

Increases of 2.6% from the first pay period on after 1 July 2014, with a minimum increase of $20.40; 2.7% from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2015, with a minimum increase of $21.75; and 2.8% from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2016, with a minimum increase of $23.15.

Further, that the monetary allowances in the Award be increased if expense-related allowances to reflect movements in the applicable ABS indicator, work related allowances generally with the same percentage increases as the rates of pay and tool allowances in line with the Crown Employees (Skills Trades) Award.


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