Present Tense

Navitas English industrial action continues

Welcome back to another year of Present Tense, your window into the world of private post secondary colleges, including ELICOS, business and VET colleges.

Regular readers would know that IEU members at Navitas English (NE), the company that runs many English language and other programs for the Federal Government, undertook industrial action in December, in pursuit of an improved salary offer from their employer.

Your Union and NE have been meeting since early 2015, and while many issues have been able to be agreed upon, NE had proved unwilling to move from their initial salary offer of 2% per annum over three years. After extensive meetings through last year, IEU members voted to take industrial action on 2 December, with a rally taking place at the Trades Hall (home of Unions NSW) in Sussex Street. The rally was well attended, with more than 80 members present hearing words of encouragement from IEU Secretary John Quessy and myself together with staff Reps Saeid Khayam and Daniel Laurence. See full report on facing page.

Following the rally, the bargaining team met again with NE management on 14 December. NE reiterated their view that the current offer was fair, and that it should be accepted. However, they did agree to slightly improve their salary offer, so that 2.5% would be paid in the third year of the agreement.

While such a movement is not of course a particularly huge move from their previous position, it does show some willingness to compromise, giving hope that a settlement can be reached in the near future.

As at the time of writing, the Union has been seeking feedback from members about the best way forward from here. A further meeting with management was held on 22 January, of which a number of technical matters were finalised, pending feedback from staff at meetings planned for February.

The current offer in full is as follows:

Three year agreement, expiring on 30 June 2018.

Salary increases of 2% (payable from date of agreement), 2% (payable from 1 July 2016) and 2.5% (payable from 1 July 2017).

One off payment of $300 to account for back pay from 1 July 2015 .

Carer’s and bereavement leave – inclusion of reference to ‘power of attorney’ and ‘enduring guardianship’ to existing beneficiaries.

Provisions allowing for leave for staff suffering situations of domestic and/or partner and/or family violence.

General staff classifications – inclusion of the classification table (ie descriptors of duties), as well as a ‘savings’ (or no-disadvantage) clause to ensure that no existing staff go backwards.

Superannuation – inclusion of a revised clause listing both NGS and NaviSuper, and outlining a process for new staff (note that arrangements for existing staff would remain unchanged).

Workloads – inclusion of a clause authorising a working party to investigate the issue of workloads, seeking submissions and participation of all staff.

‘Off site hour’ – inclusion of additional wording at the end of the current clause stating ‘Approval will not be unreasonably refused’. This should add some protection to the current provision.

New arrangements where annual teaching hours can be completed (at the request of the teacher) in a period faster than 12 months, with the annual salary averaged. This would allow teachers to make arrangements for additional paid leave.

Kendall Warren