Present Tense

The battle continues

Navitas update

Regular readers would know that your Union has been involved in long running negotiations with Navitas English, the company that operates many migrant and social education services for the Federal Government. Members have consistently told Navitas that their current salary offer (2% + 2% + 2.5%) is inadequate, and have made their feelings plain through two bouts of industrial action.

In March, Navitas decided to test the waters and put the draft agreement up for a vote. The result was an emphatic rejection of the agreement, with some 71% of votes cast against. Navitas and the IEU bargaining team are planning to meet on 29 April to try and find a way through the impasse. For updates see Meanwhile, bargaining will soon start at two other Navitas businesses, at Navitas English ACT (which run similar government programs in the capital), and Navitas English Services (which operates as a school for international students). At the time of writing, your Union was arranging visits at the various centres and preparing logs of claims, with negotiations to kick off in early May.

Other agreements

Your Union has also been busy with bargaining at other centres in the last few months. Negotiations (alongside the NTEU and the CPSU) at WSU College are nearing completion. Management put an offer of 2.5% per annum which was rejected, but the unions are hopeful of an improved offer in the near future.

Meanwhile, negotiations (with the NTEU) have also started up at UNSW Global (the university owned company that runs Foundation Studies and UNSWIL), with the employer seeking to combine the two agreements, although management’s initial salary offer of 7% over three years has been rejected.

The IEU is also bargaining at Mission Australia (along with the ASU), Sydney College of English, Access Language Centre and Universal English Centre, though these negotiations are at a very early stage.

National wage case

Most employees in the private college sector are not covered by enterprise agreements, but by the modern award. Wage rates in these awards are adjusted once a year (on 1 July) in line with national wage case. The ACTU is claiming a $30 per week increase in the minimum wage, which would equate to a roughly 4% in award rates were it granted. The business lobby is arguing for no more than a nominal rise, of 1.2%, which is well below the inflation rate, and so members can probably expect something in the middle of that. The increase in 2015 was 2.5%, which may well be where things land this year. The decision will be handed down in late May.

More college misbehaviour

The Australia Institute of Professional Education (AIPE) is the latest college to run into trouble with authorities. AIPE is being sued in the Federal Court by the ACCC for “unconscionable conduct”, after it allegedly targeted vulnerable groups in the community (such as disabled or illiterate students) for recruitment and it is claimed that they were often left thousands of dollars in debt. The ACCC is seeking to have several million dollars in Commonwealth funding returned to Canberra. AIPE denies the allegations.

Kendall Warren