Ignore Henny Penny, there has been progress in State Award negotiations

Poor old Henny Penny, an acorn dropping from an oak tree onto the poor chook’s head sent her off into an hysterical panic that “the sky is falling”..  It wasn’t of course, it was simply drawing the wrong conclusion.  Dopey chook.

With the logs of claims of LGNSW for the employers and the three unions exchanged in September, there have already been four days of constructive discussions. In parallel, we had one separate meeting between the parties with Mastertek, the experts on the job evaluation system, arising from a claim we made about updating the Local Government Job Evaluation System and with a follow-up on the job evaluation issue next week.

It’s important to remember that the Local Government Job Evaluation System, usually referred to as 00-Soft (which is just the name of the software) or Wyatt, which was the originator of the system back in the 1990s built with the cooperation of LGNSW and the three unions.  It would be good to keep that cooperation and the experts involved in the 90s through this process.

depa’s claims were dealt with on the second day of negotiations and now the three unions and the LGNSW have all run through their claims.  Given that the State Award was made by consent of the parties in late 1991, and has been varied by agreement ever since (with some assisted conciliation from the IRC when necessary) our clear expectation is that the 2017 Award will be made by agreement as well.

But there is one claim in the Employers’ Log which has Henny Penny on the run.  That’s their claim 13 which proposes to delete clause 18A(ii) providing the 35 hour week for salaried and professional staff.

Back in September, when we dealt with the commencement of these discussions in depaNews, we referred to the consultative group that LGNSW is obliged to talk to as “a festering group of HR Managers, some GMs, some Directors of Corporate Services”.  Clearly they’re not all that bad but no one should be surprised to see reactionaries, those who would have your kids working down the mines for 18 hours a day or staff working for bugger all as part of this group and no one should be surprised that the log of claims will contain things that are never, ever, ever, ever going to be agreed.  Is that enough evers?  Just to be clear, it’s never, ever, ever, ever.

And the claim to remove the 35 hour week is one of them.  Apart from anything else, 35 hour week employees have a different hourly rate to anyone working a 38 hour week, so that if there were to be changes, that hourly rate would be protected and the employees would get three extra hours pay.  The machinery and consequences of this have not yet been discussed even though the unions have pushed LGNSW for an explanation of the implications. 

More importantly, since the Award was made in 1992, there has been a capacity to have Council agreements signed with the unions where employees would make arrangements to agree to work 38 or 40 hours a week for an additional payment - not usually the overtime penalty, but something better than single time, which was embraced by employees who tended to work those additional hours anyway.

Since that time there has been a reduction in these arrangements as councils withdraw from the flexibility available in the Award and just try to crack the whip a bit harder on existing staff and force additional work and hours without proper payment of compensation. 

We all know that you don’t get everything you put in a log of claims, and if you want to get a bet on about something that won’t proceed, get a bet on against the removal of the 35 hour week.

Tell them they’re dreamin’.

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