Together News August 2016

Posted on August 12, 2016

Welcome to Together News for August. Read on for more updates from across the union and don't forget to access Together MyPage to update your details or get a statement of fees paid the last financial year (remember your union fees are tax deductible).

Health members kick off campaign for new agreements

Queensland Health staff in the AO, OO, PO and TO streams have commenced bargaining for their new collective agreement - EB9. Members have had a say on the list of issues to be addressed and negotiations are continuing – albeit slowly!

Meanwhile, Health Practitioners and Dental Officers have also held their delegate conference to kick off the bargaining campaign. The HPDO agreement expires on 16 October and these members will start their negotiations and campaign very soon.

The biggest concern for many members in Queensland Health, and for all of us, is the significant cut to overall health budgets being driven by the federal government’s slashing of health funding in the federal budget. The Queensland state budget also included a policy of a "cap" on staffing numbers, based on population rather than need. These budget decisions will have a significant impact on Queensland Health staff and the services they provide. That is why negotiations about job security, workload management and budget consultation and transparency will be a major focus of these campaigns. 

School Support Staff Recognition week - 29 August to 2 September

School Support Staff Recognition Week is a time when we value the contributions that support staff make for our school communities. Together members have had a huge year in working for better recognition for staff and that work is continuing.

The union office is mailing kits to all schools for their celebration activities. Check the recent email update to school support staff here and celebrate your school support staff this month!

Maurice Blackburn members win protected action ballots

Members at Maurice Blackburn are in the middle of negotiations for their new collective agreement. Members have been calling for a stronger wage rise, equal treatment of support staff and lawyers, the ability to appeal pay decisions, fairer performance management schemes and compensation for unpaid overtime. Unfortunately, Maurice Blackburn has decided to walk away from the negotiations, telling negotiators to "come back to the table when you agree".

Members have been successful in their Protected Action Ballots, with a massive majority voting in favour of industrial action. Your national negotiating team members and organisers have already met to discuss the result and in the next couple of days will be discussing with delegates and members on a state by state basis what action they want to take, where and when.

Election result puts a spotlight on the Senate

With the results for the federal Senate now being declared, focus will be turning to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's anti-union laws that were put forward as the justification for the recent double dissolution election.

The bills are the so-called "Registered Organisations Bill" and a bill to re-establish the draconian Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

Both of these bills place targets on union members' ability to organise and campaign for improved wages and conditions.

Thanks to pressure from union members who asked Senators to stand up for their rights at work, the Senate crossbench had joined with Labor and Greens Senators in opposing the Turnbull government's anti-union bills. In response to this Malcolm Turnbull dissolved both houses of Parliament and called an election for July in an attempt to secure a more compliant Senate crossbench.

However the new Senate has an even larger crossbench than the old one. The new Senate has 30 Coalition seats, 26 Labor, 9 Greens, 4 One Nation, 3 Nick Xenophon, and one seat each for Derryn Hinch, Jackie Lambie, Family First and the Liberal Democrats.

Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition will now most likely attempt to pass the bills through the new Senate and may even attempt a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament to force the bills through.

Government shelves Newman housing privatisation plan - great news!

The state government has shelved the Newman government's plan to privatise housing stock at Logan, a privatisation which was strongly opposed by Together members at the Department of Housing. To quote from Housing Minister's Mick De Brenni message to staff: 

"This scheme represented the largest housing privatisation of its type anywhere in Australia. This Government opposes privatisation because we believe in the power of public services to help people have better lives. This particular project was risky and unnecessary(...) I appreciate the hard work that staff put in, right across the department. It's work at the heart of Government and it makes a difference in people’s lives across the State."

Corrections members vote to change classifications structure

Corrections members have voted overwhelmingly for a change in classification structures within the government's wages off as part of their new collective agreement.

  • 61% of eligible employees voted and, of those who voted, 88.5% voted to change the classification structure.
  • The plebiscite also captured the results at each CCO Level. Every level voted for change with the lowest vote in the levels that are affected by the reduced annual pay increases being 79% and the rest at 80% or higher.

Based on this result, your elected delegates have endorsed the inclusion of the new structure in the agreement and have met with management. Queensland Corrective Services have also agreed in principle to adopt the new structure and drafting on the agreement is now being finalised.

That's all for this month's update. Remember: you can update your Together membership details or request a statement of fees paid by visiting MyPage. Click on "forgot password" to create a user name if you don't already have one.

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