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ARTC NSW Infrastructure Maintenance Enterprise Agreement Negotiations 2017 – Update #12

May 22, 2017Bulletins

Bulletin 16 – 2017

To: RTBU ARTC infrastructure Maintenance Members;

On Wednesday, 10th May 2017 your bargaining representatives met at the RTBU office to formulate a response to ARTC’s offer based on feedback received by your representatives and the union organisers during the depot tour throughout April.

Our response to ARTC made an argument as to why a 2.0% increase and no increases to On-Call or Living Away From Home Expenses for the Maintenance employees within ARTC in NSW is not a sufficient offer nor is it fair one, considering the following:

  1. REMUNERATION AND RELATED

We do not accept ARTC’s position that they can only offer a 2.0% increase per annum due to being constrained by the ‘Workplace Bargaining Policy’ (WBP) for the following reasons;

  • Within the WBP under ‘Approval Requirements’ Point 11, it states; ‘Exemptions to any provisions of the policy will only be approved by Ministers in exceptional circumstances’. The bargaining committee believes this point can be utilised by ARTC management in offering a more favourable increase then the currently tabled 2.0% by proposing to the Minister/s that their employees deserve more than the policy allows for various reasons, some of these reasons are, however not limited to the following;

 

  • The bargaining committee has put together a table comparing the approximate ARTC NSW Employee pay rates to the approximate ARTC Victorian (VIC) Employee pay rates performing the same job for the same company. Whilst the two classifications differ considerably in the placement of competencies, and the amount of competencies required at each level being far more onerous on the lesser paid NSW employees, if you compare the key core units of the competency structures within both agreements you can begin to align where the levels within the NSW classification structure sits within the VIC classification structure. They are as follows;

 

  • NSW Level 1 is consistent with VIC Level 1
  • NSW Level 2 is consistent with VIC Level 3
  • NSW Level 3 is consistent with VIC Level 5
  • NSW Level 4 is consistent with VIC Level 7

 

Furthermore, the NSW pay rates incorporate superannuation and annual leave loading where as the VIC pay rates do not. We have also included these calculations in the table to further highlight the differences in incorporating these benefits in NSW rates of pay and not in VIC rates of pay.

Additionally, a letter was sent by a senior ARTC manager addressed to the RTBU National Office supporting in principal, the amalgamation of ARTC’s Infrastructure Maintenance Agreements. This manager talks about the benefits of having one agreement that covers “a common group of Infrastructure workers who essentially perform the same tasks”. This manager mentions how ARTC is governed by the WBP however, as previously stated above, we believe the WBP can be used in a favourable way to ARTC’s employees under ‘Approval Requirements’ Point 11. and not as a restriction.

At the end of the manager’s letter it also states the following in regards to renegotiating state based EA’s; “As a way through this, I suggest we work together bringing the enterprise agreements closer together (but as separate agreements) and when the timing is more appropriate, we then look at combining them into the one agreement.”

Your claim of 4.0% to your rates of pay, on call and living away from home expenses would be a move in bringing the enterprise agreements closer together.

  • In the last financial year alone (2015/2016), ARTC reportedly made $117,600,000.00 in profits, this is on top of an unfavourable post tax adjustment of $48,700,000.00 due to prior years. I quote an ARTC Chairman’s own words “Excluding that item, ARTC’s Net Profit would have exceeded last year by 23.5%”. If it had not been for the post tax adjustment, ARTC’s profits for 2015/2016 would have been much higher;
  • In the last financial year alone (2015/2016), just 4 of ARTC’s key management personnel were paid salary packages totalling $1,733,605.00 for the year. The same 4 ARTC key management personnel also received an annual bonus totalling a further $320,535.00 for the year. If you include these 4 individuals superannuation payments and long-service leave entitlements, the total cost to ARTC for just these 4 individuals totals $2,174,067.00 last year alone. This has caused a lot of frustration and confusion by ARTC’s NSW Infrastructure Maintenance Employees due to the following;

 

  • The total cost to ARTC for approximately 200 employees receiving a 4.0% increase to their wages (including rate of pay, on call and living away from home expenses) over a 3 year period has been costed by ARTC to the approximate total of $3,184,130.00, which works out to be $1,061,376.66 per year. This figure is $1,112,690.34 less then what it cost ARTC for 4 key management individuals last year alone;
  • The profits earned by ARTC in the financial year 2015/2016 and all previous years are thanks to their hard working employees. The profits made by ARTC last year alone is more than enough to fund the 4.0% claim per annum over a 3 year period that ARTC employees deserve, not only will this boost morale and productivity, but it will send a message that ARTC are truly thankful for all the hard work their employees provide to their customers and stakeholders.

 

  • Announced in the Federal Government’s budget for 2017 was an $8,400,000,000.00 investment into ARTC to deliver the Inland Rail Project which would see the creation of 1,700 kilometres of track between Brisbane to Melbourne, further increasing company profits by a potentially extreme margin.

 

  • Cost of Living continues to rise at an alarming rate, which is currently sitting at a 2.1% increase. If ARTC were to provide no increases to On-Call and/or Living Away From Home Expenses, Maintenance employees within ARTC in NSW would see a total of 6 years without an increase to these entitlements.Furthermore, Maintenance employees within ARTC in VIC receive CPI increases to their On-Call and Living Away Home Expense every year. 

 

For reference, you can find the comparing table of approximate rates between the ARTC NSW agreement and the ARTC VIC agreement attached to the email containing this bulletin. Utilising all the information we have available and above, ARTC does have an argument it can take to the Minister/s in support of an increase to your wages that is higher than the WBP allows (2.0%).

Your bargaining committee also proposed draft clauses for consultation, flexibility term and acting in a higher grade.

The consultation and flexibility term clauses we proposed, we believe to be more transparent, clearer and fairer for both parties then the clauses proposed by ARTC management.

The proposed acting in a higher grade clause was taken straight from the ARTC VIC Infrastructure Maintenance Agreement to adopt for the workers in NSW. This clause would allow employees who are utilising a unit of competence above their normal rate pay to be paid the higher rate while they conduct that work.

For example; an employee who is a Level 2 Infrastructure Worker is competent in the utilisation of a competency that sits at Level 3. Your manager asks you to utilise that Level 3 competency one day out of the week, on that day you are paid as a Level 3.

Over the course of a 2 hour meeting, robust discussions were had in regards to our response to ARTC, however, by the end of the meeting ARTC had rejected every response and/or argument presented by your bargaining team on your behalf.

We were also accused of ‘cherry picking’ the more favourable entitlements in the VIC agreement, rather than identify the favourable entitlements in the NSW agreement. The favourable entitlements ARTC management referred to that are within the NSW agreement, is the annual bonus and unlimited sick leave, which the VIC employees do not receive.

For 1, annual bonuses are never guaranteed and 2, if you sneeze out of turn the amount you receive at the end of the year is deducted.

We also found it interesting they chose to mention unlimited sick leave as a favourable entitlement within the NSW agreement, considering that employees are constantly being dragged in by ARTC management about ‘so called’ excessive sick leave.

How can you have excessive sick leave if you have an unlimited sick leave entitlement?

We also discussed the improvements to domestic/family violence leave to incorporate sexual, verbal, financial and emotional as further definitions of domestic/family violence. The importance of introducing these definitions was made apparent throughout the recent ARTC depot tour.

This was a major push by your bargaining committee as this would allow husbands, wives, mothers and fathers to handle things such as, but not limited to court appearances for divorce or custody of children, moving out of your home due to being a victim of domestic/family violence and much more.

ARTC’s response was once again, ‘No’. The reasoning given was that they believe the policy already allows for these circumstances of domestic/family violence to be covered when utilising its leave provision. This was immediately squashed by your representatives who are aware of employees who have suffered from incidents such as the ones mentioned above and were denied by ARTC in utilising this entitlement as the violence/abuse was not of a physical nature.

ARTC management had nothing to say in response.

We are awaiting a formal written response to all of the above by ARTC reflecting their rejections to every argument presented on your behalf.

Bulletin Attachment – Comparing Rates of Pay between ARTC NSW & ARTC VIC Employees

Our next ‘NO’ meeting with ARTC is Wednesday, 31st May 2017.

In Unity!

Issued by: Authorised by:
Luke Hayden

Organiser

Alex Claassens

Branch Secretary

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