Present Tense Agreements update

For much of 2015, your Union has been negotiating with Navitas English Pty Ltd (formerly known as ACL) for a new enterprise agreement. The parties have been meeting every two weeks since February, and while most matters (including all non salary matters) have now been finalised, we have been unable to come to an agreement on salary. The Union claim was for 7% per annum, though we have suggested to the employer that members are willing to accept a figure below this, while Navitas have stuck to their original offer of 2% per annum.

Members have made clear their views that the management offer is inadequate, and have authorised the IEU to commence proceedings for industrial action. Under the Fair Work Act, industrial action is ‘protected’ if it is duly authorised by a formal ballot of members, and it is expected that this vote will take place in late October. Industrial action is only authorised if a majority of members cast a valid vote, and 50% of votes cast are in favour. Members at Navitas are strongly urged to cast their vote and vote in favour of industrial action.

Your Union has also been negotiating at UoW College, the English and Pathways college attached to the University of Wollongong. These negotiations, conducted in conjunction with the NTEU, have been progressing since May, and steady progress has been made. It did appear for a while that salary would prove to be a sticking point here too, but in late September, the college finally agreed to the Unions’ compromise offer of 2.75% per annum over the three years. When put together with the other gains (such as with travel allowances, subject co-ordination and non-teaching duties), it means that the IEU will have no hesitation in endorsing the new agreement when it is put to teachers in late October.

The IEU has also recently commenced negotiations at UWS College (in conjunction with the NTEU and the CPSU) and Insearch UTS, and will soon commence discussions at UNSW Foundation Studies, Specialty Language Centre, Universal English College, Sydney College of English, Access Language Centre and SELC.

Enterprise agreements typically provide for superior salaries and conditions to the award, and the Fair Work Act contains provisions which can compel an employer to commence bargaining. If you would like to know how this can work at your college, contact the IEU

Modern award review

In mid-October, the IEUA lodged its submission to vary the industry award, the Educational Services (Post-Secondary Education) Award 2010 (the standard award in the post-secondary sector), as part of the four yearly modern award review.

The IEUA submission covers two main areas. The first of these relates to the requirement that teachers be paid the ‘daily rate’ once they teach for more than three hours in a day. The daily rate is equivalent to five hours of pay, and is the maximum regardless of how many hours are taught, or how many hours of additional work are required. The Union is seeking to have the daily rate abolished, so that teachers can only be paid by the hour.

The other area is in relation to notice for casuals. At present, the award does not allow for any paid notice for casuals, unlike the old state award which provided for notice for casuals after they had worked for the one employer for more than four weeks. The lack of notice provisions in the modern award means that it is quite possible for a casual teacher of some months’ standing to be told on Friday afternoon that there is no more work for them the following week, with no notice whatsoever. By placing notice requirements into the award, it will at least mean that teachers in that position can be paid out in lieu of adequate notice.

It is expected that the Fair Work Commission will finalise its review of all modern awards some time in 2016.

Kendall Warren