Yesterday Commissioner Thompson has referred the ongoing process of negotiating your wages and conditions to arbitration.
We started bargaining with the government for a wage increase and improvements to working conditions more than 9 months ago.
Together members voted in 2018 to put forward a list of claims for fair wages, secure jobs, real consultation provisions, safer workplaces and so much more.
As you know on 13 February this year the government put forward their last offer and 87% of Together members voted to reject it. It still didn’t address your key concerns. There was still no improvement in wages for workers at the lowest pay levels and nothing else of note in the offer.
Commissioner Thompson thanked everyone for their perseverance and hard work in trying to reach an agreement, but noted that without the government moving on the wages quantum he did not believe that workers should be kept waiting any longer and has now made a referral to arbitration.
What does this mean for you?
The immediate effect of this referral is that any members currently taking protected industrial action must now stop doing that. We cannot take protected action while we are in arbitration.
If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact the union office.
The process of arbitration takes time. It is not a quick fix, but members have clearly said what the government has offered is not good enough. So the good part of arbitration is that your claims are still alive but there will not be a quick breakthrough.
Your Together delegates will be meeting next week to work through the process issues and start preparing the evidence for the arbitration.
I will send more information as we have it about the interim processes and the timeframes for the arbitration.
I know that this is not where we expected to be when you and your fellow members voted on your claims in March last year. However, we are now in the hands of the independent umpire.
Congratulations on standing strong for a fair deal. The work you do is important, and you deserve to be recognised for it.