Negotiations for the next Local Government Award have gathered pace in recent weeks, as we creep ever closer to the June and the nominal expiry date of the current Award.
The negotiations have been the subject of 3 compulsory conferences before Commissioner Murphy so far this year, with a further 2 dates scheduled before the Commission in March alone.
The unions continue to seek the assistance of the Commission in the collection of key information to support our claims.
To-date Commissioner Murphy has issued directions to councils relating to two issues:
1) Access to Training:
All councils have been directed to return to the Commission copies of their training plans and budgets, so that we may assess compliance with the current training provisions found in the Award. We now have responses from the majority of councils, with a small number now directed to respond by 13 March or appear before the Commission on 16 March to explain their failure to comply.
2) Utilisation of Casuals/Labour Hire/Term Contracts:
All councils have been directed to return to the Commission information relating to the numbers of positions held by these insecure forms of employment, the types of positions, etc. This information is to be provided by the end of March.
The LGEA continues to press our claims, with out-of-hours contact and excess hours one area that has been the subject of some positive discussions. Our claim for a Professional Registered Engineer Allowance is being met with strong resistance, particularly in the context of LGNSW’s claim for the removal of the CLA. With the real possibility of a mandatory professional engineer registration scheme coming into law during the life of this Award, we continue to argue that it is appropriate this be recognised within the new Award. A difficult argument to make without the full detail of what may be to come, but one we continue to press.
Discussions continue on our claims for improvements on workplace change consultation, a new dispute mechanism for bullying and harassment claims, and stronger protections for leaseback vehicles and motor vehicle allowances.
When we compiled our Log of Claims for the Award we did so with the goal of improving the industry and making it a better place for people to work. The same cannot be said of LGNSW, who do not have a single claim in their log that does anything to address the recruitment and retention issues facing local government.
LGNSW’s claim for increasing your working hours to 38 hours per week has been met with very strong resistance from the LGEA and other unions, and at this stage, it looks likely that we have defeated it. LGNSW continues to press for a removal of the CLA, or a grandfathering of the provision, which we have (yet again) indicated would not be something we would be willing to accept.
In positive news, we are proud to advise that on Monday 24 February, after many years of campaigning by the LGEA, depa and the USU, the Local Government State Award was varied to include a provision for paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave. This new provision, which took immediate effect on and from that day, provides employees with up to 10 days of paid leave to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence.
Given recent horrific events in our country it is clearer than ever that more needs to be done to assist and support people who are impacted by family and domestic violence. The industry parties understand the gravity of this issue, and knew this variation should be made immediately, rather than waiting until our new industry Award is made in July.
This provision has the capacity to change and save lives, and we are very proud to have played a role in this historic moment. If you would like to seek advice in relation to the clause and its application, please contact the LGEA directly on firstname.lastname@example.org.