Optus employees have voted to approve the new Employment Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiated between Optus and the CWU.
The ballot produced a 94% YES vote with a turnout of 48.25%. The EPA will now go to the Fair Work Commission for approval and will take effect upon the current agreement reaching its nominal expiry date (December xx,) or at a date set by the FWC.
New provisions of the agreement such as the extra week’s redundancy pay will be available as soon as the new EPA comes into operation. Pay increases will, as usual, be paid mid-year.
There have been a number of gains for Optus employees achieved in this round of bargaining. Some of them flowed directly from improvements to the Optus Award which the CWU won during the award modernisation process e.g.
New leave provisions
Other improvements were not award-related but were achieved during bargaining.
CWU made proposals to Optus in relation to Domestic Violence Leave and Emergency Services Leave. As a result, experience of domestic violence is now explicitly recognised by Optus as a legitimate reason for seeking paid leave, while Emergency Services Leave has been increases from 3 to 5 days (in any 12 month period). Additional Emergency Services leave may also be granted, at Optus’ discretion.
In the case of Domestic Violence Leave, the CWU argued for a specific entitlement of up to 10 days paid leave, in line with the provision we negotiated in the Telstra Enterprise Agreement. In keeping with its long standing policy of maintaining management discretion in such areas (except where entitlements are prescribed by law), Optus would not agree to any set amount of leave.
The CWU regards the fact that Optus has explicitly acknowledged the issue of domestic violence leave as a step forward. But the CWU will continue to press for there to be a specific paid leave entitlement in this area, as is increasingly the practice in the corporate sector.
Finally, the new EPA provides new flexibility for employees taking Long Service Leave by allowing them to take a longer amount of the leave (2 months) on half pay.
The established Optus approach to pay involves a guaranteed increase in (minimum) pay rates in line with inflation, with further rises tied to individual performance. This is the formula that will determine pay rises under this latest EPA.
During bargaining, the CWU proposed a 3% minimum rise across the board, irrespective of performance, in line with its belief that there should be a guaranteed real (i.e. above inflation) pay rise for all employees, with any performance-related component of pay being above that rise.
Needless to say, Optus rejected that proposal. The CWU will continue to press this issue with Optus, just as it will with Telstra, which is seeking to spread its flawed performance-based pay system across the whole company.
Meanwhile, Optus members wanting further information about the new EPA should contact their state branch.