The CWU and Optus appeared before a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission on Friday 22nd August in relation to the modernisation of the Optus award.
Optus has applied to retain its current enterprise award rather than to go to the industry award (or awards). The key award that would be relevant is the Telecommunications Services Award (TSA) – the award which Telstra originally proposed should replace its awards.
The CWU has supported the Optus application although we have proposed some amendments to the current Optus award to bring it more into line with current minimum standards across a number of industries, such as a 30% loading for night shift where it is performed for more than 4 weeks.
In several places though the Optus award offers better entitlements than the TSA. Particularly important are the redundancy provisions which allow for payment of up to 40 weeks’ salary as opposed to a maximum of 16 under the TSA.
We will now wait for the FWC’s decision. The CWU believes there are sound arguments for retaining an enterprise-specific award in Optus, but so far the FWC has knocked back all applicants, with the exception of Telstra.
Members should be aware that a decision by the FWC to reject Optus’ application would not mean any immediate change to their conditions of employment. It would mean, though, that there would be a different – and in some places weaker – safety net for the next round of enterprise bargaining.
Members will be informed when a decision on this matter has been handed down.