Negotiations continued in Melbourne this week covering union issues such as: the protection of penalty rates, the payment of the 0.25% increase in the superannuation guarantee into salary for APSS members, the inclusion in the agreement of superannuation protections for accumulation fund members, guarantees on rights to have a tea break both before and after a meal break, warning counsellings to be subject to an appeal process, the right to request a change to working arrangements to meet caring responsibilities for e.g. frail elderly dependents etc.
While the majority of members general claims have been put to Australia Post specific issues involving for e.g. the retail sector, the technical workforce and transport matters have yet to be tabled and/or discussed and will be the subject of discussion with Australia Post in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Australia Post is expected to come back on members’ general claims sometime next week after which the union will formally respond to Post.
Interestingly, Australia Post also wanted to discuss superannuation this week. After tabling their concerns about the growing impact of superannuation costs on the business, AP then stated that it would be prepared to look at how a wage increase might be delivered via employees having access to their superannuation entitlements. While good faith bargaining requires us to hear Post out on all its claims this sounds suspiciously like workers paying for their own wage increase! We reckon that most members would be very unhappy about Post fiddling with their superannuation entitlements and people being expected to pay for their wage increase.
Australia Post will be soon introducing a new pannier bag system into Delivery. The pannier bags are deeper in size with separate pockets of UM. The metal carrier has been replaced with a lighter weight alloy taking up to 5kgs off the weight on the bike. Also, the grey box is replaced with a lightweight material (known as the pizza box). Sewed into the box are two pockets for wet weather gear storage.
A Risk Assessment was conducted at St Albans DC in Melbourne where issues raised by the PDOs/HSR and AUR were taken into account.
A follow up review of the Risk Assessment was conducted at Seven Hills DF. In attendance were HSR Gary Jenkins, NSW Branch Organiser Peter Chaloner, two PDOs performing the trial, Post management and CWU National Industrial Officer Michael Etue. All agreed it was a much better system.
Production will commence shortly so PDOs can expect to see the new panniers being rolled out in the near future.
The dispute on future staffing models in Post Offices was back in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) last week for the union to argue its case that an 18% rest and recovery allowance should be added to the live times recorded in the PO study of bill pay transactions.
Commissioner Roe made a file note arising from this conference, which is attached for your information.
While Commissioner Roe did not suggest adding any portion of the 18% to the live times he has stated that a notional adjustment should be made to the data to account for the lower proportion of EFPOS transactions in the sample – i.e. payments by EFPOS took longer to process and given the number of EFPOS transactions recorded in the study was relatively small and less than what is believed to be typical for all bill payments across all post offices an adjustment for the extra time was required. The union and Australia Post will meet shortly to discuss the adjustment and any other inconsistencies in the data arising from the live time study.
Commissioner Roe also said that all the times outside the 41 seconds of bill payment should be accounted for in the back office survey saying, The CEPU and Australia Post working party on the “back office” survey should ensure that the back office survey technique captures those factors which Australia Post say it is designed to capture and which the CEPU say are not adequately captured at present.
The working party has met once to commence discussions on back office and counter surveys. Importantly one of the key items on the union’s agenda for the working group is to ensure that all back office and counter survey functions are included in ROM surveys and that the PMs and post office staff are able to enter realistic times to perform these functions.
The CWU Vic Branch and workers at Australia Post’s Mount Waverly Delivery Centre have been trying to negotiate to have two Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and two Deputy HSRs to represent the 150 plus workers in the work group for almost a year.
A petition signed by a majority of workers on 9 May 2012 requested the union to conduct elections for health and safety representatives. Australia Post disagreed with the proposed composition of the work group - the workers and the union initially suggested that there be two work groups. After consultation with the union (and consultation with workers) agreement was reached to have one work group. The workers in the work group considered that two HSRs and two Deputy HSRs were required due to size of the work group and the dangerous type of work. A further petition was signed by workers to this effect.
But Australia Post continued to stall on agreeing to the number of HSRs and therefore the conduct of the election.
Frustrated by Australia Post’s refusal to genuinely negotiate, the union advised Australia Post in December last year that it intended to conduct an election using a democratic procedure in accordance with the WHS Regulations. Nominations for two HSRs and two Deputy HSRs were called for. The number of nominations received equalled the number of vacancies, thus the positions were declared filled at a meeting of workers in the workplace on 12 December 2012. Post was subsequently informed Post of the outcome.
Arguably, that should have been the end of the matter. Instead Australia Post has continued to refuse to acknowledge the HSRs hence in order to ensure that the workers have HSRs to represent local OHS issues the union has raised the matter with Comcare.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has suggested that a new report entitled, The Future of Postal Service in Canada had been financed by Canada Post purely to justify its cutbacks, and that projections of future losses had been overdone. The report was put together by Canadian think-tank Conference Board of Canada, whose board of directors includes Canada Post chief executive.
The union said the report’s projections of a $1bn annual loss by 2020 was based on estimates that 2012 would see a $250m loss by Canada Post. The company actually recorded a $127m pre-tax profit in 2012 although Canada Post said last week that it expected “substantial” losses in 2013. The union said the report “only examines the options of cutbacks, contracting out and wage restraint”, rather than looking at areas of business growth.
The union representing more than 50,000 Canada Post workers said: “No one is disputing that reduced letter volumes will have a major impact on Canada Post Corporation. Instead of financing self-serving studies to justify cutbacks, CPC should seriously examine the innovative measures that are being undertaken by other postal administrations. Many countries, including Switzerland, Italy, Brazil, New Zealand, France and Germany have expanded into revenue-generating financial and banking services. It is time for CPC to do likewise.”
Post office staff in the UK will be going on strike for a third time in less than a month on Monday (29th April).
Strike action will affect up to 373 post office branches, which handle around 20% of the UK post office network’s business.
The Communication Workers Union is continuing to protest the outsourcing of 76 Post Office Ltd Crown branches to private sector retail partners, and a pay freeze among its 4,000 post office members.
The union says more than 800 jobs would be affected by the Post Office plans, which aim to cut the network’s £40m losses.
The union said, “We can help the Post Office find a positive way forward for the network, but they must be prepared to listen to the concerns of their staff who voted by nine to one to back strike action. Without negotiation this dispute will continue.”
The findings of a Productivity Commission report into employment patterns have been hailed by some commentators as showing that unions’ concerns about insecure employment are just part of a “scare campaign”.
But unions say the report confirms the continuing high level of casual employment across the Australia workforce.
The different responses to the Forms of Work Report can be explained partly in terms of the timelines involved. The report confirms that the percentage of Australian workers in casual employment doubled during the last two decades of the last century, giving us one of the world’s highest casualisation growth rates.
But since 2001, that growth has flattened out and is now being exceeded by the growth in permanent employment, both full-time and part-time.
So is that good news? Unions say that the report show that a full 40% of the workforce is still made up of non-permanent workers – casuals, labour hire workers or “independent” contractors.
“We’re talking about a situation where more than two million Australians, often those in low-paid work, have no access to sick leave, carers leave or annual leave,” says ACTU President Ged Kearney.
Union concerns are supported by the report’s findings that the growth in permanent jobs occurred disproportionately in part-time positions and in jobs held by older workers. That’s no comfort to younger workers still trying to establish themselves on a secure footing.
“The lack of job and income security experienced by millions of Australians is a long-term, systemic problem,” says Kearney.” It affects their ability to take out a mortgage and plan for the future.”
“It is pushing us closer to a US-style working poor and the growth of a class of workers who are under-skilled and on the periphery of the economy.”
This year Workers Memorial Day, 28 April, has been marked in Australia by the inauguration of a new national memorial to those who have died of work-related illnesses or injuries.
The creation of the memorial was an initiative of the federal Labor Government which committed $3 million to the project in 2011.
The National Workers’ Memorial, located on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, is a long-overdue formal recognition of the costly toll that work-related accidents, incidents and disease have had over the years, said ACTU President Ged Kearney.
She said it was fitting that the permanent tribute was being inaugurated today, which is International Workers’ Memorial Day. Workers’ Memorial Day is a union initiative that originally started in Canada in the 1980s with the slogan “mourn the dead and fight for the living”.
There were 374 Australians killed in traumatic workplace incidents in 2010-11 (the most recent year that statistics are available) but it is estimated the death rate when work-related diseases are added is well over ten times that.
“The National Workers’ Memorial will be a place where family members and workmates can contemplate their loss, but it will also be a focus for us to redouble our efforts to make all workplaces safer,” Ms Kearney said.
Unions around the world have used Workers Memorial Day, 28 April, to call for immediate action in response to the terrible loss of life in the collapse of a garment factory In Dhaka, Bangladesh.
At the time of writing the official death toll from the collapse of the 8 storey building was 384, but with over 900 still missing the toll could rise well over 1,000.
The incident has shone a harsh light on the conditions of garment workers in one of the world’s main centres of cheap manufacturing. Like others in Bangladesh, the factory supplied goods chiefly for western multinationals.
The industry has been widely criticised for its rock bottom wages, lack of workers’ rights and dangerous working conditions. There are reports that extra floors are routinely added to buildings illegally to increase capacity. The workers in the factories are mainly women who are contracted to work eight hours a day but forced to work 18 hours a day, even on their day off, to complete orders.
Philip Jennings , the General Secretary of the international union for communications workers (UNI Global Union) said, “It is tragic and unacceptable that the number of victims we are remembering on Workers Memorial Day has been greatly added to by the hundreds who have lost their lives in the Dhaka building collapse.”
“The building was by all accounts a death trap. Bangladesh’s press has called what happened at the factory “mass-murder by the rich” and they are not wrong. “
“But the real winners are the multinationals who are able to sell their goods to consumers at rock bottom prices.”
Jennings called for action to ensure that not only the local owners but also their multinational clients took responsibility for ensuring safe working conditions for garment workers.
“What is needed is more regulation to force these giant Western companies as well as the suppliers to fall in line and protect workers' rights,” he said. “It is time to clean up the supply chain.”
Australia Post has advised the CWU that it wants to put a wage offer on the table for discussion at a special EBA meeting this week. To get the latest news on the pay offer go to our website eba8.com.au or download our phone app below.