Rail, Aviation and Transport

Rail, Aviation and Transport

Qantas Management Resolute On Destroying Aussie Jobs

Paul Lister - Friday, February 28, 2014

Following yesterdays announcement Matt Murphy, ETU National Industrial Officer today met with senior Qantas management - his report back from the meeting is below.

the main points arising out of todays meeting are as follows:

  • Management will not negotiate on the 5000 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) job losses, which actually means more than 5000 people when casual, part-time and job share positions are considered;
  • Management will proceed to attempt a wage freeze by putting a variation to our current agreement to a vote of employees;
  • Even if employees vote to accept a wage freeze management will still proceed with shedding 5000 FTE jobs;
  • The cuts to LMO, especially in Sydney, are in addition to, and not part of, the 5000, and;
  • There are no further indications as to where the 5000 FTE will come from.

Basically, Qantas management, meaning the CEO and board, are trying to split Qantas up and are fully committed to obtaining changes to the foreign ownership provisions of the Qantas Sale Act.

If they are successful with changes to the act, they will, as soon as possible, offshore the overwhelming majority of their aircraft and component maintenance.

I also need to say to you that the CEO and Board are among the very worst employers in this country. Hard line right-wing and in lock step with the current conservative government.

It's also worth mentioning, however, that pound for pound, the Virgin loss of $84M is worse than the QF result.

The ETU, AMWU and AWU, along with the ACTU will fight for every single job by continuing to hold Qantas management responsible and I have, as early as yesterday, told Qantas that we will not entertain a wages freeze, at all. The CEO and Board seem determined to destroy Qantas as we know it.

It's very apparent to me that a line has been crossed here; we are, potentially, at the beginning of a massive confrontation. As I said yesterday on the ABC, once these jobs and skills are gone, they will never come back; they are gone forever. I can only hope that all the Unions, under the umbrella of the ACTU, stick together and fight this. Your Union, the ETU certainly will.

We have some options, including legal action to enforce the provisions of our EBA, and more importantly, campaigning on the ground; this will evolve over the next couple of weeks in discussions with you and members of the other Alliance Unions and the ACTU.

We are again meeting with management next Tuesday, after the LMO Consultation.

It is clear to me that it is extremely important for Qantas workers to be part of their union, now more than ever. If you are not a member of your union I suggest you take action to protect yourself and your job and the best way to do this is by joining your union. If you work in an area covered by the ETU you can Join Online.

If you have any questions or feedback, please ring me on the mobile at any time.

In unity,

Matt Murphy
ETU National Industrial Officer

CRU Moves to Protect Rights and Conditions

Paul Lister - Friday, February 28, 2014

What Is The CRU Doing To Protect Members Rights?

The Combined Rail Unions (CRU) have advised the rail entities that we intend to make a Scope Order application with the Fair Work Commission.  That means we will be asking the Fair Work Commission to hear our argument  as to why one agreement should be made to cover all employees of Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and RailCorp, and to ensure any new Agreement will cover all employees should the CRU and the rail entities be unable to resolve this matter over the coming week.

Why We Have Sought One Agreement

The CRU has consistently sought to clarify the “scope of the bargaining” (who will be covered by any agreement(s)), particularly in regards to members within RailCorp (often referred to as “residual RailCorp”).  To date, the rail entities have refused to provide a clear position on whether any agreement would cover these employees.

The CRU has provided the following reasons as to why we are seeking a single agreement:

(i) Scope (coverage) is a fundamental matter which needs to be resolved as a preliminary point, otherwise bargaining is inefficient and proceeding on a false premise that the unions will agree to five agreements. You have told us that you want one agreement and we heard you.

(ii) The proposed “splitting” of the replacement enterprise agreement into three agreements in Sydney Trains, and five across the three rail entities, divides the workforce in these negotiations and in the future and has created and will create tensions between groups of staff.  The CRU and our members are concerned that the current and future capacity of members to bargain and be represented will be reduced if they are covered by separate agreements.

(iii) Together, these groups of members have better bargaining power than if they are separate where each group has less bargaining power and the negotiations are less fair.

(iv) The rail entities have not taken the views of the employees into consideration when deciding to split the agreement and not agree to a single-enterprise agreement covering all employees of Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and RailCorp (excluding employees on Senior Service contracts).  This is what the membership has stated and wants and has been confirmed at Novembers delegates conference and then at subsequent workplace meetings held throughout December.

(v) Having one agreement has meant efficient bargaining in the past.
 
(vi) A single agreement has been the result of a series of negotiations which have resulted in a series of agreements which protect the rights and conditions of employment of employees in the rail industry;

(vii) The history of having members in the one agreement has led to minimal disputation and industrial action;

(viii) While the entities have different names, (RailCorp, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains), for all intents and purposes they are closely operationally linked and are not geographically, operationally or organisationally distinct.

(ix) There is no geographic, organisational or operational rationale for having more than one agreement due to the interlinked nature of the entities and their operations and the work performed by members. For example, while NSW Trains only employs train crew, On-board staff, Booking staff and station staff, Sydney Trains, in addition to its existing staff (including Train Crew, Station Staff, Admin, Maintenance) provides employees to perform services to both organisations including:

  • track maintenance;
  • rolling stock maintenance;
  • signaling and train control services;
  • operating policies and procedures;
  • administrative support;

(x) Members are concerned that their future capacity to bargain and be represented will be reduced if they are covered by separate agreements.

(xi) The current agreement is an amalgamation and rationalisation of the conditions of employment previously encompassed by the merger of the State Rail Authority and the Rail Infrastructure Corporation (a previous merger between the Rail Access Corporation and Rail Services Authority).

(xii)  The CRE want to delete/include or change conditions in a different way in different agreements. How can the parties negotiate efficiently on these matters when the members want one agreement?

What Are The Rail Entities Doing In Retaliation?

Since December the Combined Rail Unions have tried to bargain- seeking one Agreement.  Unfortunately, the rail entities have taken the position that when the CRU either disagree with the rail entities or seeks to preserve the rights of members that the unions are not bargaining properly.

Rather than continuing to negotiate the rail entities have decided to lodge a dispute with the Fair Work Commission which will be listed next Wednesday, 5 March 2014.

Next Steps

1. The CRU will be lodging an application for Scope Orders with the Fair Work Commission should the matter of the number of agreements not be finalised by Wednesday, 5 March 2013.
 2. The CRU will attend the dispute hearing at the Fair Work Commission next Wednesday, 5 March 2013 and fight for the rights and conditions of all rail workers.

Age of Entitlement Continues with QF Management

Paul Lister - Thursday, February 27, 2014

Qantas’ announcement of 5,000 jobs being cut and wage freezes across the business as part of their push for a taxpayer-funded debt guarantee confirms that the ‘age of entitlement’ is alive and well for corporate Australia, according to the Electrical Trades Union.

The union, which represents hundreds of Qantas maintenance workers around the country, said that while government assistance for major industries wasn’t new, this deal would mark the first time a company was rewarded for slashing thousands of Australian jobs.

ETU national industrial officer Matthew Murphy also warned that the real motivation for seeking changes to the Qantas Sale Act was to allow thousands more jobs to be sent overseas.

“Changing the Qantas Sale Act will do little to attract foreign investment — years of mismanagement has seen the company downgraded to junk status — but it would end the legal requirement for the company to maintain many maintenance jobs in Australia,” Mr Murphy said.

“This is the real game plan, with thousands more jobs likely to be sent overseas on top of the 9,000 positions already slashed during the tenure of Alan Joyce.”

The ETU said today’s announcement would have impacts on maintenance staff across Australia, including:

  • component maintenance in Melbourne and Sydney, due to 50 aircraft being deferred or sold;
  • heavy maintenance in Brisbane due to the retirement of Boeing 767-300s;
  • a restructure of line maintenance in Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne; and,
  • a proposed wage freeze, including an attempt to axe previously-agreed wage rises.

“Contrary to the claims of the Abbott Government that the ‘age of entitlement’ is over, we’re seeing multibillion dollar taxpayer support rewarding the largest private sector employer in the country for slashing Australian jobs and cutting wages,” Mr Murphy said.

“Worse still, it has been made extremely clear to the company that receiving a taxpayer-funded debt guarantee from the Federal Government is tied to their efforts to cut wages and conditions — which includes an attempt to modify current workplace agreements to cancel previously-agreed pay rises.

“This is a far cry from previous government assistance, including from the Howard Government, which was always tied to assurances that jobs such as heavy maintenance would remain in Australia.”

Mr Murphy said there would also be impacts on the flying public, with the high maintenance standards on Qantas aircraft likely to suffer from fewer workers and increased offshoring of work.

“Qantas has traded for decades on its high safety standards, but these standards will inevitably suffer if there are fewer maintenance workers and more heavy maintenance is moved overseas,” he said.

The ETU will meet with Qantas management tomorrow in Sydney.

CRU Presses Key Member Issues With Management

Paul Lister - Wednesday, February 12, 2014
  • Since bargaining officially began as per the 2010 EA (Clause 7) in December 2013, the Combined Rail Unions (CRU) have advised management in writing and at each meeting of the requirement for one agreement to replace current EA which could contain two sections, covering Sydney Trains (including TCS and residual RailCorp) and NSW Train along with the functional arrangements for each classification / grade / group as per the current agreement.  The CRU have also made it clear that all the proposed changes / reforms must be tabled and the ‘Core’ conditions of the Single Agreement must be finalised before negotiation on the functional arrangements commence.
  • On Tuesday, 4 February 2014, the rail entities indicated they were prepared to look at ‘one Agreement’ as outlined by the CRU, and were prepared to put it to their “stakeholders”.
  • On Thursday, 5 February 2014, the rail entities tabled a ‘Draft and Without Prejudice’ document titled ‘Facilitative Clauses’.  The RE indicated that before they could approach their “stakeholders” they would need the CRUs response to the document, to ‘reassure’ their “stakeholders” that a single Agreement would be possible from their point of view.
  • On Tuesday, 11 February 2014 the CRU tabled a written response to the matters discussed on Thursday, 5 February 2014.  The key matters detailed in the CRU correspondence were as follows:
    • Could the rail entities confirm whether agreement to a single EA depended contingent on agreement to all the matters contained in the document tabled (“Discussion of Facilitation Clauses in EA”);
    • If the response was no then the CRU were happy to discuss the structure of the single agreement and to continue bargaining;
    • However if agreeing a single agreement was dependent on negotiating a facilitative and other relevant clauses such as consultation provisions, dispute settlement procedure, etc. then the appropriate application would be made to the Fair Work Commission for Scope Orders.  (A scope order is an order from the Fair Work Commission that the agreement being negotiated covers all employees i.e. in our context Sydney Trains (including TCS and residual RailCorp), NSW Trains, residual RailCorp and TCS).
  • Discussion on the 11 February 2013 revolved around the absolute requirement on behalf of the CRU membership that unless would could agree to one Agreement, it was impossible to commence detailed discussions, and equally importantly, unless all matters involving ‘reform’ and change going forward were tabled, there could be no meaningful comprehension or understanding about the meaning, purpose and impact of the ‘Draft and Without Prejudice’ Facilitative Clause document.
  • The CRU have requested a written response to our letter dated 11 February 2014, and have reconfirmed to the CREs that any further discussion about matter outside the issue of one Agreement will not be possible until we have settled the issue of one EA to cover all employees currently covered by the 2010 EA.

Workers Comp Cuts Hurting Injured Workers

Paul Lister - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New workers compensation laws are making life tough for injured workers, according to a new study from Macquarie University, funded by unions. Yet Andrew Constance, the NSW Finance Minister argues overall his scheme is helping people get back to work and delivering savings.

ABC 7.30 covered this story last week highlighting just how these changes are hurting ordinary people - view the ABC 7.30 report here.

On 1 January, 2014 injured workers who used to have their medical expenses covered by the workers compensation system were relegated to the scrap heap after changes by the O'Farrell Government took effect.

Injured workers who were waiting for medical procedures of were continuing to incur medical treatment costs were told by private insurers they were no longer covered leaving these people, many retiree's and pensioners, without any options and facing financial and personal hardship.

Unions NSW commissioned a report through Macquarie University to look at the impact of the O'Farrell Government's changes and the negative impact they are having on vulnerable injured workers. The full report can be read here.

Rail Defibrillator Update

Paul Lister - Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Following the ETU's conference last year where delegates resolved to commence a campaign to increase the availability of defibrillators on worksites and a subsequent research paper that proved the effectiveness of defibrillators, the ETU approached Sydney Trains seeking a rollout of this life saving technology across the rail network.

Following this request Sydney Trains committed to review this situation and we can provide the following update for members in the rail sector.

Most of the hard work has been completed and plans are progressing to have these rolled out in the coming months.

Current status

• Project Manager has with stakeholders to gather data on the number of workgroups and locations that would benefit in the availability of a defibrillator. This has identified a large number required if Sydney trains are to cater for the individual workgroups (approx. 95).

Next steps

Management will...

• Review numbers to identify locations and workgroups and the best way to manage the availability including portable vs fixed units.
• Finalise numbers required
• Meet with Health Services to determine preferred financial approach (lease vs purchase)
• Business case submitted for approval
• Deploy Defibrillators
• Roll out training for relevant personnel.

The ETU will continue to push for these safety devices to be rolled out but Sydney Trains have taken this request seriously and are progressing towards a rollout, we will keep you updated on the progress and outcome.

Combined Rail Unions Fight for One Agreement

Paul Lister - Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Today, Wednesday 4 February 2014 the Combined Rail Unions (CRU) again told management the headline issues for members identified at the delegates conference and at workplace meetings in December 2013 were:

(i) a single Agreement covering all employees of Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and RailCorp (including employees assigned to Transport Cleaning Services);

(ii) the requirement that the rail entities table all reforms and the savings made from the current and any future reforms. The CRU wants the rail entities to confirm how much they have saved and what wage rises should be given to employees as a result of current and future workplace reforms;

(iii) The CRU has also requested that significant workplace changes and savings from the change proposals such as Infrastructure Facilities Maintenance, the Ticket Sales Staff Review, changes to the Customer Environment Information and Intelligence Projects, Transport Cleaning Services and Performance Divisions should be included in bargaining. Changes not identified in the current EA should go towards future wage increases;

(iv) no reduction in the conditions of employment or rates of pay of employees and that any future Agreement must contain the current rights and conditions applicable to all the employees covered by the Agreement contained within the current EA;

(v) the entities and employees covered by these negotiations need to be clearly identified and included in any new agreement; and

The CRU also requested the rail entities to release key delegates to attend bargaining meetings. The rail entities have resisted this in the short term, however the CRU have stated delegates must be in attendance at the meeting to ensure it is an open and transparent process.

The CRU put the following proposal to the rail entities:

(i) a single agreement with a core common conditions section covering all employees;

(ii) within the document two sections covering:

(a) Sydney Trains (including coverage of TCS and residual RailCorp);

(b) NSW Trains

(iii) a facilitative clause.

The rail entities have taken the proposal back to their “stakeholders” and will meet with the CRU again on Thursday to respond.

QANTAS: Lowery Hits ‘GO’ On Offshoring

Paul Lister - Friday, January 24, 2014

Since its first flight in 1971, Qantas Engineers have maintained the B747 to the highest of standards. As of
Tuesday - this will no longer be the case.

In November 2013, the company announced that the Avalon facility would no longer undertake the base
maintenance of the 17 remaining B747 jets. Following that decision, a discussion was initiated about where the maintenance would go to next.

The Alliance Unions pursued vigorously to have the base maintenance of the B747 fleet undertaken in either Sydney or Brisbane. In our view, this would strengthen existing employment numbers and potentially create additional employment over the next eight years, until the last jets retire from the fleet in 2021.

It’s important to note that it was abundantly clear that your management did not have the appetite for either option from the outset. Our last meeting with the company took place on December 18 in the Sydney training center. At this meeting, we requested that information be provided to show where the gaps are in the skills required to undertake this work, and indeed if any exist. We also asked what capex is required to modify existing infrastructure to perform the maintenance.

Your management refused to produce this information.

Further, we requested that the company look into what modifications could be made to the existing fleet
maintenance schedule to accommodate the B747 maintenance – a task that is routinely done. Again, they
refused this request.

On Tuesday afternoon, Tony Lowery wrote to the Alliance Unions to say that the Sydney, Brisbane and
Melbourne options were too hard and that he has hit the offshore button.

This decision is lazy and shortsighted.

The Alliance Unions have made it known publicly that this is the wrong decision – and we will continue to
do so. If you share this view, you too should make your voice heard.

SO WHAT’S NEXT?

As you know, the company has nearly completed the roll out of the EOI’s for redundancies across the
engineering workforce. This is in an attempt to open up positions for those soon-to-be-redundant Qantas
workers finishing up at Avalon.

The EOI is not an opportunity for the company to release more engineering jobs! The Alliance believes a
worker should only be released if that position is to be backfilled by someone else.

We don’t need your managers offloading any further jobs on top of what they already have. This position
will be reiterated strongly to your management in the coming days.

If you would like to discuss these matters further,
please don’t hesitate to contact your local delegate in the first instance, or
your State and National Officials.

Working in Heat

Paul Lister - Thursday, January 16, 2014

Weather forecasters are predicting that parts of NSW and the ACT will experience high temperatures over the coming days.

All members should be aware of the dangers of heat stress and be familiar with the unions working in heat policy (2003), your employer’s heat management policy or the Workcover code of practice for managing the work environment.

In summary ETU members should observe the following as a minimum but individuals should take appropriate action depending on your individual health and work situation: 

             
TEMPRETURE
DETAILS
0-28C

Continuous work with normal breaks.

28-38C

Minimum 15-minute break per hour worked.

38C+

Mandatory - stop work - do individual (Personal) risk assessment and determine if work is to continue, that work undertaken to be limited to fault and emergency or finalisation of current work (No New Work).

 

Click on the links provided for a full copy of the ETU Working in Heat (2003) policyWorkcover NSW’s website with details about working in heat and the Bureau of Meteorology for current weather forecasts (click on the map for your local forecast).

Members should exercise extreme care as temperatures rise. If you have any questions please contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

Harvard to deliver strong leadership for ETU

Paul Lister - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

ETU Secretary Steve Butler last week left for Boston, Massachusetts where he will attend the Harvard Trade Union Program as a part of the Unions NSW delegation. The course, sponsored by Unions NSW, is aimed at developing union leaders to deal with the ever changing environment that’s unions and their members face.

The course, Preparing Leadership for the Challenges of the Future, being run between January 6 and February 14 is open to about 40 union leaders from around the globe and helps to develop managerial and organisational skills for union leaders when dealing with the complex nature of union governance and administration.

Some of the areas of study covered include: Strategic Planning for Unions, Leadership and Organisational Change, Union Governance and Administration, Lessons from Labour History, Dispute Resolution and Arbitration, Public Sector Labour Relations, Labour Law, New Tactics for Union Organising, the Global Economy and Unions and New Technology.

While Steve is away Assistant Secretaries Neville Betts and Paul Sinclair will oversee the day to day running of the NSW Branch.