Bargaining between the United Voice negotiating team and Serco Immigration has continued and intensified over the last month and Serco has made a sub standard offer of settlement which your union and negotiating delegates consider insufficient and do not recommend to members.
Agreed in Principle
- The new Agreement will operate for three years and expire on 31 December 2017.
- Public holidays arrangements to ensure correct payment when members work only part of a public holiday, United Voice clause accepted
Aviation Assignments - Serco had initially indicated agreement with your union's claim that aviation assignments should be shared around all staff fairly, but the company's recent newsletter now suggests Serco still wants to select which employees will do aviation assignments. Members have demanded fair sharing of this work and proper remuneration including a guaranteed right to return to normal shifts on return from assignment. Serco need to make their position clear in relation to aviation assignments.
Job Security - Over the last few years Serco have dramatically increased the proportion of casual employees. Members advise casual employment has been as high as 70% in some workplaces. Many casual members have worked full time rosters for two or more years up to recently and United Voice thinks these members should have the opportunity to convert to permanent status if they choose to do so. Serco has recently been flag waving that they've made up a few dozen casuals to permanent status and while that is a move in the right direction, it's a case of too little and too late.
Serco has proposed that casual employees who work a regular and systematic roster for at least 12 months commencing from when the new Agreement starts may be able to convert to permanent status. But the Detentions network has been shrinking over the last few months and that is expected to continue so in reality casual employees are very unlikely to achieve permanent status under the Serco proposal. Your union has asked for an arrangement which genuinely offers something to reward the loyalty shown by long term casual staff.
Health and Safety - United Voice has proposed a clause requiring the continuation (where they have historically applied) of rosters with seven days off in each 28, in recognition of the requirement for real recuperation following periods of work in what is an extremely challenging and sometimes violent workplace. Serco has ignored concerns raised by employees and instead has now resurrected its failed 2011 attempt to introduce unsuitable rosters in NSW, and is trying to apply them across the country. Your union considers Serco's actions are capricious and unfair and has launched legal proceedings both in Victoria (where Serco are already ramming through unsuitable rosters) and nationally.
- Wages - Serco have proposed increases of 2.8%, 2.9% and 3.0% over the course of the Agreement. In recognition of settlement of the public holiday issue your union's claim is now for increases of 5% each year. Employees demand their work be properly valued!
Remote Area Allowance - Serco have offered a $500 increase to the Northern Territory allowance from commencement of the new Agreement. NT members have indicated this amount is insufficient to balance the out of proportion (compared to other capital cities) increase in living expenses experienced in Darwin since the allowance first commenced.
Good Faith Bargaining
The Fair Work Act requires that parties in Enterprise Bargaining follow certain Good Faith Bargaining Rules, designed to ensure negotiations proceed fairly and honestly. The rules require that the parties provide relevant information in a timely way, and that they do not act capriciously or act to undermine bargaining.
Casual / Permanent Staff numbers
In order to properly assess the effect on our members of Serco's rejection of our job security (casual conversion) claim United Voice has requested Serco provide data identifying the use of casual staff throughout the detention network. Serco has failed to provide the information sought.
In apparent response to members’ claims for improved occupational health and safety, Serco are attempting to introduce unsafe rosters nationally. Your union thinks that is not fair play, and is properly regarded as capricious conduct.
On 16 December 2014 United Voice filed an application in the Fair Work Commission seeking orders that roster changes cease and casual / permanent data be provided to your representatives. We have requested the Fair Work Commission deal with that application before Christmas.
Where to from here?
The negotiating team cannot reach an all up agreement unless our important claims in relation to job security, aviation assignments and rostering are dealt with.
Receipt of data re casual / permanent staff numbers and cessation of Serco's bite back roster changes will allow your negotiating team to consider whether there are other ways to achieve members claims and is critical to the continuation of bargaining.
If agreement cannot be reached your union will convene meetings where members will be asked to commit to industrial action in support of their claims. Taking legal industrial action under the Fair Work Act requires several rules to be followed, including the holding of a Protected Action Ballot (PAB). If we need to hold a PAB United Voice will ask that the Australian Electoral Commission conduct that as an online exercise from the AEC website so all members can participate regardless of wherever they are.
Remember, only union members can vote in a union PAB, and non-members cannot take part in any industrial action. If you know someone who is not a union member, make sure they join now or they'll be left out!