The headline takeaway from bargaining meeting #8 this week was that management seeks to have as much of our conditions to be in ‘policy’ as possible rather than the Enterprise Agreement. This distinction is significant.
Policy is made without the need for consultation and agreement by staff. Our Enterprise Agreement is on the other hand a legally binding document and gives us rights. We have built our agreement over many years and we must ensure that our rights and conditions remain in a binding Agreement instead of ethereal policies.
The other major concern is that we put to management the need for a proper fact-finding approach to the big issues: workloads and overwork. We say let’s pull a working group together and initiate a genuine inquiry into the state of work at Sydney. We heard in response that there is only interpretation and that facts could not be agreed upon.
This is dire, folks! Our biggest concerns are being evaded. Why? Are management scared of the funding out the truth? We need to force management to confront these issues with real evidence-driven data. Fill out our workloads survey and encourage your colleagues to as well, so we can make real headway on the workload crisis.
Much of Bargaining focused on professional staff issues around flexible work and hours and job security measures. Management seem concerned that there was no approval process in place. We explained that roster systems and simple trust can deal with requests for flexibility and flexible working hours. Our flexibility clauses are a small measure to help protect staff from having to always negotiate the power imbalance attending the employment relationship.
We also presented our claim that professional staff be given the opportunity to apply and be interviewed for jobs before they are advertised externally. Disappointingly, this was not something management seemed keen on. We explained some of the benefits. Importantly, we have argued that our workforce is a community and people build their lives around their places of work. An internal recruitment process is a small measure but with big consequences to our working lives.
After 8 meetings we can see a few areas where agreement might be possible. But the crisis issue of workloads looms in our next bargaining session (Nov 23rd)!