FWC directs Break O Day to respond to ASU

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The Fair Work Commission heard the ASU’s application for Bargaining Orders filed against Break O Day Council in October.

Deputy President Barclay found that Break O Day Council was in breach of their Good Faith Bargaining obligations due to failing to adhere to the following requirements.

  • Attending, and participating in, meetings at reasonable times.
  • Responding to proposals made by other bargaining representatives for the agreement in a timely manner.

The commissioner directed Break O Day Council to respond to the ASU’s proposals within 7 days of the hearing, to hold a bargaining meeting with the ASU on the 24th of October and schedule further bargaining meetings as required. The ASU was pleased to report back to the Fair Work Commission that Break O Day Council had complied with Commission’s directions by sending responses to the ASU’s proposals as agreed and that a productive bargaining was held on the 24th of October.
Further negotiation meetings have also taken place on November 2nd and 23rd.

Waiting on an Agreement approval?

 

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It’s that time of year again where many enterprise agreement negotiations have been completed for the year and we find a large number of ASU members waiting for the approval process to be completed by the Fair Work Commission so their new agreement can be implemented.

This can sometimes be a frustratingly long process, currently approval times are ranging from 10 – 15 weeks. That’s once the agreement is lodged with the Commission.

The delay is a result of the huge volume of agreements being submitted this time of year and every enterprise agreements is now heavily scrutinised by the Commission to ensure compliance with the Fair Work Act and to make sure that every employee covered by the agreement will be better off than they would otherwise be if they were covered by the applicable modern award instead of the agreement.

There is little anyone can do to speed up this process, other than making sure the agreement fulfils all of the necessary requirements before going to ballot, and we must wait for the Commission to complete their work. Approval is usually very swift once the Commission is finished with the checks and balances but with close to 1200 agreements currently waiting for approval this can take a considerable time.

If you have recently voted on an agreement and are waiting for it to come into effect and would like more information about the current status of your agreement please feel free to contact your ASU Organiser.

 

Time for a super investment in housing

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It’s not a new concept.  Influence and power, particularly when it comes to investment, has been shifting away from governments for a while now.  This is certainly the case when it comes to superannuation funds and the enormous resources at their disposal.

As at June 2017 the total assets of Australia’s superannuation funds sat at $2.32 trillion, with $545 billion of that in industry funds; industry funds which are run to benefit their members, many of whom would be struggling with issues of housing affordability and the threat of homelessness.

While the Federal government who, instead of handing out additional funding to the States to help them deal with issues around housing affordability and homelessness hands out threats to cut funding if States don’t magically improve those areas, it’s pretty clear we need a new solution.

Superannuation funds nationally and globally have been giving these issues more attention, and discussions around implementing triple-bottom-line approaches (factoring in the environmental and social returns along with the economic) have been happening since the mid 1990’s.  However the issue remains that the overruling responsibility of Superannuation boards is to make decisions that maximise the retirement balances for their members.

In other words, until investing in environmental and/or social projects, such as community and public housing, can provide equivalent or greater financial returns for their members, those funds have an obligation to invest elsewhere in projects that give them the best ‘bang for their buck’.

The ripples of the growing housing and homelessness crisis cannot be viewed at a micro level, and must be seen as far wider-reaching.

With an economy coming to the end of a mining boom, a housing crisis threatening to undermine macroeconomic stability, a scary cycle of price inflation in the property sector, and a government seemingly not interested in meeting their obligations to invest adequately to make any real difference, is there an economic imperative as well as a moral one for private investors to step in and play a greater role in diffusing this hotbed of risk?

A recent discussion paper compiled by Industry Super Australia (ISA) looks at exactly this, and identifies many of the issues that ASU members working in the sector have known about for a long time around: the risks of ignoring this growing issue, the inadequacy of “build more houses” being the answer, the loss of social housing as a safety net due to obscene waitlists, and importantly that this crisis has grown beyond the capacity of Australian governments alone to manage.

The paper calls for a number of policy and structural changes at a governmental level which would open the door for Superannuation funds (along with other private investors) to invest more heavily in social housing to try and turn the tide, and to try and reverse the upward spiral of property prices more broadly, which would see flow-on improvements to the affordability of social housing.

It is no panacea, but it’s a discussion worth having!

You can download a copy of the ISA discussion paper here

 

Backflip on banking royal commission

 

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The announcement of a banking Royal Commission shows that Malcolm Turnbull takes direction from the big banks, not the Australian people. The Prime Minister caved on demands for an inquiry into the big banks only after they gave him permission to do so. That doesn't give any one faith in the terms of reference.

The Royal Commission must focus on where the real power is, the bank executives who profited from ripping off Australians’ savings, life insurance and superannuation – not the frontline workers.

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Big banks can’t be trusted with workers’ money. They’ve been forced to refund or compensate their customers $480 million in the past two years. Unions proudly constructed super funds for the benefit of our members. It is critical that the government abandons its attempt to give working people’s super over to the big banks by trying to kick workers’ representatives off of superannuation boards, and imposing regulation on Industry Funds that the banks don’t have to abide by. And yet bank-owned superannuation funds have on average underperformed industry super funds by 2% per year over the past 15 to 20 years.

Turnbull is threatening all industry funds such as Vision Super and HESTA, which means your retirement savings are under attack. Once again, the government doing the banks bidding.

Tell the crossbench Senators to keep banks out of super.

 

Privatisation has failed REPORT: Taking back control

 

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The ASU Victorian and Tasmanian branch welcomes the findings of the people’s inquiry into privatisation report ‘Taking Back Control: A Community Response to Privitisation.’

The report graphically details what communities across Australia have known for years: that privitisation has failed – it has failed communities; it has failed workers; and it has failed the nation. In particular the report looks at various service areas and outlines how privitisation has harmed them: whether it is in the electricity industry; or aged care services; or child care services.

And, regardless of the policy area, the impact of privitisation is the same with profit seeking leading to lesser quality services, poorer employment outcomes and market failure.

Essential services are best provided direct by government

The report makes clear that communities greatly value quality public services, underpinned by good public sector jobs. The community holds the firm belief that essential services are best provided direct by government for the benefit of the public, not shareholders.

The findings of this report are important for ASU members working in local government and the public sector. ASU members have first-hand experience of the pain privitisation has caused in the past through the Kennnett government’s CCT policies as well as conservative state government cuts to public sector employment, and attacks on the wages and conditions of workers in the public sector.

The report provides vindication for the work of ASU members resisting privatisation in fighting to keep their jobs and the services they provide their communities ‘in-house.’ The report shows there is no community appetite for further privitisation of services and that ASU members have their communities on side.

This is good news for quality public services and good news for those ASU members delivering services to their communities directly from councils and state government authorities.

For further information:

People's Inquiry Into Privatisation

Changing the rules by taking back control: the community reaction to privatisation

 

 

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