Present tense

Union bargaining for better agreements

Kendall Warren

UNSW Global agreement

The IEU has been negotiating alongside the NTEU for several months for a new agreement at UNSW Global, the pathways college of the university. Regular readers will know that members of both unions undertook industrial action in early July, in an attempt to get past the impasse the negotiations had reached, and by and large that action was successful, with the parties coming to an agreement in principle by the end of July.

Details were still being ironed out as of press time, but the new agreement will include salary increases of 2% per annum, with an additional top up payments (built into the salary rates) of $250 in 2020 and $500 in 2021. There will also be improvements in arrangements for off-site work, additional leave, managing change, and union training leave.

The agreed settlement is a tribute to the efforts of Union members at the college, who were prepared to take action in pursuit of their aims. The new agreement represents an excellent outcome for members of both the IEU and the NTEU.

Other agreements

Your Union has also been busy bargaining at a range of other schools, and we have recently settled new agreements at Insearch, Sydney College of English, Navitas English NSW, Taylors College, and UoW College. Negotiations are continuing at Embassy English and Navitas English Services, and will soon commence at Navitas English ACT, WSU The College, and Sydney English Language Centre (SELC).

The Fair Work Act includes provisions relating to ‘good faith bargaining’, under which an employer can be compelled to start negotiations for new agreement where a majority of their staff (or section of staff, such as teachers) want them to. To find out how that might work at your college, contact your Union on

Industrial changes coming?

The big business lobby is pushing the federal government to make changes to the Fair Work Act to water down the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT), to make it easier to get agreements approved by the Fair Work Commission (FWC). Business is arguing that the BOOT is too rigid, and that the FWC should not have to consider whether every employee is necessarily better off than they would be under the award, as is the case now.

ACTU is arguing against any such changes, saying they would allow for “substandard agreements (where) there is no genuine legal safeguard to prevent the abuse of the bargaining process”. Members with long memories will recall the bargaining system under WorkChoices, where there was no requirement for agreements to have any such safeguards, and the concern is that the changes proposed by business would be a step back down that road.

Your Union was a big supporter of the ACTU’s Change The Rules campaign in the run-up to the federal election, as we believe that the current system is broken, works against working people, and is a big factor in Australia’s flat wages growth of recent years. The changes proposed by business would only worsen an already bad situation.

IEUA NSW/ACT elections

Members should be aware that currently there are elections for a variety of posts within the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch – voting papers should arrive in the post. All members are encouraged to take part in the democracy of their union.