City of Gold Coast - Update from those who were there

The Services Union knows that opposing parties sometimes have differing views about the evolving outcomes of any Certified Agreement  negotiation. However, the City’s ‘Certified Agreement Update’ of 9 February departs so significantly from the facts we can’t help wondering if it was ghost-written by a non-participant. Here’s our Union’s response to the following issues in the City’s update.

“It is clear that the unions are unable to agree amongst themselves what their collective position is.”

The Services Union is a component of the Single Bargaining Unit (SBU) comprising all City of Gold Coast Unions. The SBU has consistently tabled a common position. At the last meeting, the SBU even tabled a significantly reduced consolidated log of claims! Only when discussing LAAs has the SBU said workers covered by each LAA should decide what happens to their LAA.

It is disappointing the unions have rejected a standardised 36-hour work week and are now requesting a 35-hour work week. The City has been advocating for an equitable approach to working hours for all our staff […]”

The City itself withdrew its initial offer of a 36-hour week back in December. The City’s ‘Certified Agreement Update’ of 15 December stated:
In consideration of the above offers, the City has withdrawn its proposal to reduce working hours to 36 hours per week (for most employees) as part of its original package offer. The City has asked the unions to consider a preferred way to move forward in this regard.” (As an aside, perhaps the ghostwriter of that Update hasn’t talked to the author of Friday’s effort).

In answer to the City’s request for ‘the unions to consider a preferred way to move forward’, the SBU proposed the 35-hour week so all staff would feel they were actually getting something out of a reduced-hours proposition.

Despite continued reductions in the headline Brisbane CPI, which has now fallen below the City’s pay offer, the unions have maintained their position and rejected this offer. Considering the Brisbane CPI is the usual barometer for pay negotiations, we cannot comprehend the reasoning behind the unions rejecting this offer.”

The Brisbane CPI is not the onlyusual barometer’ for pay negotiations. The City’s offer doesn’t comprehend that the current CA’s, pay rates lagged behind cumulative CPI by roughly 1%, and that you started from a backdrop of further pay drift due to several years of lump-sum administrative increases. The need for more catchup to the cost of living, and the fact that smaller Councils have agreed to upwards of 15% over three years, are “the reasoning behind the unions rejecting this offer”.

Despite this, the unions are still not supportive of the City’s proposal [to remove LAAs]”

We spent considerable time at the last meeting devising a schedule for further discussions around each LAA, and even started negotiations on the City Cleaning LAA. We are still waiting for the City to confirm meeting dates and provide information. If LAA discussions are still ongoing (and in most cases haven’t even started), clearly no union is yet able to accept or reject the City’s proposal.

The transition to fortnightly pay did not form part of this week’s discussions.”

Clearly whoever wrote the City’s latest “Certified Agreement Update” wasn’t at the last meeting. On the day, the SBU clarified to the City what we would need to take the fortnightly pay proposal out for member consideration. This comprised a commitment to address any shortfall in backpay, and a provision requiring discrepancies above three hours to be rectified within 24 hours or by the Friday of the week in which the discrepancy occurred.

While there was no mention of this in the City’s ‘Certified Agreement Update’, there was also no mention of the fact that we spent considerable time explaining our claim for improved allowances for unpleasant working conditions. We also undertook a lengthy discussion regarding our views on how this claim might interact with the employees covered by the current City Cleaning LAA. For reasons we’re yet to understand, the City seems only to want to talk about its claims and its view of what your new CA should look like.

The Services Union and the entire SBU remain eager to continue negotiations with a view to finalising a package for your consideration as quickly as possible. However we understand that it needs to be the right package – after all, you’ll be living with it for several years! We’ll keep you posted as to what happens next, and in the meantime, refer any questions to your workplace delegate. For any of your colleagues who haven’t yet joined your union, it’s easy online.

Above: The ASU is the union fighting for workers at City of Gold Coast Council.