Get ready, we’re about to start negotiating the 2017 State Award

The three local government unions – the USU, depa, and the LGEA (left to right pictured above) - and LGNSW on behalf of councils across the state, are about to start negotiating the 2017 Local Government State Award. Yes, we know it seems a long time before the next pay increase, when it would normally apply, from 1 July, but this is a process a bit more complicated than it looks.

First, LGNSW drags through a festering group of HR Managers, some GMs, some Directors of Corporate Services to see what they would like to have negotiated in the next Award. This can’t be a pleasant experience for them, and collectively, our hearts go out to them. There will be slashers and burners aplenty in this exercise - some still smarting from not being happy about the potential to take a couple of days from sick leave for the health and well-being, or time off to try and find your natural parents if you’re a closed adoption, “will anyone have any time for work?” (two of our claims from the last award negotiations) and they will want to go hard again. Strip it back, back to the 50s.

And the unions have canvassed their members (thanks to those members of ours who responded to the invitation) and a timetable has been set by the President of the IRC (probably one of the last things he does before he ascends unto the Supreme Court with a heavenly chorus) and this will see the employers’ organisation and the three unions exchanging logs of claims on Monday 12 September.

This time, the three unions will consolidate claims that we have in common to make the process a bit more efficient and effective and, as always, we have tried to be realistic in developing our own log of claims. After all, the State Award was made by agreement between the parties in October 1991 and, apart from a little bit of private arbitration and pressure exercised by members of the Commission to get us to reach agreement on different bits and pieces, the successor awards over the last quarter of a century have all been made by agreement between the parties.

Here is a link to the claims signed off by the depa Committee of Management to be part of the joint unions’ claim or, if we’re the only ones interested in them, to be pushed by us alone. I would expect, because if there’s one thing a union official knows about it’s the concept of solidarity, we will provide a united and compelling front on our claims.

The timetable set by the Commission will have the logs exchanged next week, a listing for a report in the Commission the following day; a deadline of 10 October for the parties to exchange amended logs of claim; a report back on 13 December and then a series of compulsory conferences in March and May to resolve any outstanding issues. This is a program that should allow plenty of time for us to consult with members about what we end up with in the negotiations to continue our long and proud history of an agreed approach between the unions and the employers in the industry.

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