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Winton Shire Council

Powerlink Bargaining Win!

Energy March 25, 2020

On Tuesday 24 March 2020 The Services Union had a very positive and productive negotiation meeting for the replacement Working at Powerlink Union Collective Agreement, with the Unions and Powerlink reaching in-principle agreement, subject to Powerlink obtaining board approval.

Agreement in-principle

The in-principle agreement involved the following:

  • 3% wage increase per annum;
  • 3 year term;
  • Commencement – 1 March 2021 (after the current agreement expires);
  • The 3% wage increase will be funded by the following productivity initiatives (as required under the GOC wages policy):
    • Removal of performance pay to those covered by the Working at Powerlink Union Collective Agreement;
    • IVAMs – In vehicle monitoring;
    • New and Emerging Technologies – A commitment that the parties support the introduction of new and emerging technologies, to optimise the delivery of work;
    • Single person tasks – Further consultation and the requirement for agreement before introducing additional single person tasks;
    • Aggregated hours – The ability to depart from the standard weekly hours in certain circumstances after consultation and mutual agreement;
    • SAHVEA – Specifically applicable to Network Operations. Outage Coordination requiring a SAHVEA authorised person, and the ability to perform the Network Coordinators 1 and 2 roles;
    • Public Holiday Substitution – Provides parameters for teams to reach agreement to substitute a public holiday for another day, or for an employee to request it.

Our Union put forward a claim for superannuation to be paid on unpaid parental leave. The basis of the claim was our Union’s concern for the disparity that exists with superannuation balances at the end of the working lives of men and women. Powerlink rejected the claim, based on the Government’s advice that the claim was outside of the GOC wages policy; however, Powerlink gave a commitment to address this issue by policy.

Once off cashing out of annual leave proposal

The Union’s put forward an additional proposal to Powerlink that during the life of the current enterprise agreement, the cashing out of annual leave will be allowed as a once off, in circumstances where an employee is able to retain a minimum balance of 4 weeks of accrual.

This proposal was put forward on the basis of the current crisis resulting from the Corona virus pandemic.

A separate ballot will be required to vary the terms of the current agreement, and if it is approved by employees, they will have a window later in the year until March 2021 to cash out annual leave as per the proposal (because the cashing out of annual leave was not agreed to as part of the in principle agreement for the replacement enterprise agreement).

The cashing out proposal as a response to the crisis will allow some employees to access additional cash during the crisis and assists Powerlink by reducing the employer’s annual leave liability.

Next Steps

The next steps involve:

  • Powerlink to seek the approval of their board;
  • Meetings to occur with our members to endorse the agreement in principle. We will not be able to have our usual member meetings in the current circumstances. We will advise in the not too distance future as to how we propose to engage with our members;
  • Drafting the replacement agreement and then for government to approve the draft agreement;
  • Ballots for the replacement enterprise agreement and to vary the term of the current agreement.

Overall, today represented a win for members at Powerlink. Late last year our members endorsed the proposal for the Union to push for a roll over agreement with a 3% pay increase per annum, and to pursue this quickly and early in 2020. Both of the objectives have been met, now we need to leap over the final few hurdles before getting the agreement approved by the Fair Work Commission.

 

If you have any questions or concerns about the above, please contact your Senior Workplace Delegates, Paul Alvey and Matt Prescott, or call 07 3844 5300.

It is more important to be a member of a Union than ever before. If you a colleague who is not a member of the union, ask them to join using this link

Author: Jack Donaghy, Senior Industrial Officer, The Services Union

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