Present tense

Happy new election year!

Welcome back to another year of Present Tense. 2019 promises to be a busy year in politics, with elections to be held in NSW (23 March) and federally (likely in early May).

The Labor Party seems odds on to win government in Canberra, and are probably a better than even chance in NSW, so what will the election in either sphere mean for IEU members in the post secondary college sector?

Federally, Labor has promised to overhaul the badly flawed Fair Work Act, though the full extent of this is still to be revealed. However, it appears likely that an ALP government will amend the Act to encourage more in the way of industry wide bargaining, particularly for lower paid work. This could have a significant effect on the private college sector, which is beset by low pay and poor job security. A Labor government is also likely to make improvements in agreement making, increase minimum wages, and protect penalty rates.

Labor is also planning to hold a major review into the post secondary college sector within 100 days of winning office, so if the polls stay as they are, members can expect some significant announcements in this area before the end of the year.

In NSW, the Opposition is probably less likely to win office, but the polls suggest that it will be close, and here too, Labor policy has something to offer members in the sector. Labor has quietly proposed to improve Workers’ Compensation, in an attempt to plug the huge gaps left by the O’Farrell government’s attack on the scheme seven years ago. Labor has also talked up regulation of the so called ‘gig’ economy, to try and give those workers greater protections by bringing them into the mainstream of the industrial relations system.

The IEU is not affiliated with any political party, but if elections are about choices, then there looks to be plenty of reasons to consider a change of government this year.

Agreement round up

Your Union continues to work hard on behalf of members, and one of the biggest things we do is negotiate enterprise agreements. These agreements are important, as they normally contain wages and conditions that are superior to the award.

Over the summer, your Union has finalised a settlement at Navitas English. The proposed agreement will preserve all existing benefits and see some improvements to the progression for non teaching staff, while salaries will be indexed to the Wages Price Index (2.1% for the first year). Voting should take place in February.

Negotiations are continuing at several other colleges, including Insearch, UoW College, UNSW Global, Embassy English, Sydney College of English, and Taylor’s College. A full summary of progress with those negotiations will come in the next edition of Present Tense.

The Fair Work Act includes provisions for ‘good faith bargaining’, under which an employer can compelled to negotiate where it can be demonstrated that a majority of the employees (or section of employees, such as teachers) want this to happen. To find out how this might work at your workplace, contact your Union, the IEU.

Kendall Warren