Dear members, we have put together this short FAQ for those of you who might be new to the process. Please contact us should have you any additional questions:
What is the EBA?
The EBA (Enterprise Bargaining Agreement) is the single document (sometimes known as a ‘Certified Agreement’ once it is approved by the Fair Work Commission) which governs your workplace conditions. The Agreement covers all manner of workplace conditions, and outlines the rules for managing such things as yearly pay increments, annual leave entitlements, sick leave entitlements, hours of work, shift patterns, allowances for things such as travel and meals, overtime arrangements, and career progression. It also specifies when and how the organisation can introduce change.
Why is this Agreement so important?
The Certified Agreement is the best way to ensure rules, procedures and policy are applied fairly, equitably and consistently. It can be used to hold the organisation (and your representatives) to account. In the event of a ‘breech’ of the Agreement, or should a difference of interpretation arise, either party can formally raise a dispute with the Fair Work Commission to interpret or enforce terms of the Agreement.
How long does the Bargaining process take?
Our current Agreement expires 30th June 2021.
Your negotiation team met with St John on 24th February 2021, and will continue to meet fortnightly at first, possibly moving to weekly meetings later in the process. It is extremely unlikely (especially given the raft of changes Proposed by St John) that an Agreement will be reached by June 2021. More often than not the bargaining process continues well past this nominal expiry date.
In the event no Agreement is reached by June, the conditions outlined in our current Agreement simply role over.
Who is the negotiating team for the St John?
• Deon Brink (Executive Director Ambulance Operations)
• Paul Bailey (Executive Medical Director)
• Ryan Marshall (Acting Executive Director Finance)
• Tara Doyle (Head of Metropolitan Ambulance Operations)
• Justin Fonte (Head of Country Ambulance Operations)
• Rene Anderson (Head of People Services)
• Kathryn Smith (Employee Relations Manager)
• Hayden McGregor (Employee Relations Specialist)
Who are your bargaining representatives for the AEAWA?
• John Thomas (SM)
• Donelle Carver (AP)
• Lee Waller (SM)
• David Higgins (SM)
• David Abbott (SM)
• Michael Hardwick (AP)
• David Bryant (Country AP)
• Gary Davies (Country AP Online)
• Marty Kelly (SM)
• Conrad Fairhead (SM)
• Jon Flockton (Country AP)
Who are the bargaining representatives for United Workers Union?
• Gary Cook (AP)
• Scott Fitzpatrick (AP)
• Ben Throp (AM)
• Wendy Blackman (Country AP Online)
• Paul Davies (CCP)
• June Congdon (UWU)
• Fiona Scalon (Online) (UWU)
• Sumayyah Sayed (UWU)
How does the bargaining process work?
Typically each party presents an ‘Offer’ or ‘Log of Claims’ On the 24th February St John presented their ‘offer’.
In light of the unprecedented nature of this offer, the AEAWA negotiation team decided to defer presentation of our claims until revisions had been made to specifically manage some detail of the St John offer. Claims must be allowable or ‘permitted matters’. Permissible matters are those which relate to wages and allowances, annual and sick leave, shift patterns and hours of work. Generally, operational matters cannot be included, so things such as the colour of the uniform, vehicle cleaning products or the design of the ePCR are not permissible matters.
The Fair Work Act governs the rules of negotiations, and both parties must ‘bargain in good faith’ and attempt to reach an agreement. That doesn’t mean we have to agree on issues, but we must make efforts to reach an agreement. As you can imagine, this process can go on for several months often with small compromises and concessions being made. Each party may present data to argue their case, for example they may discuss which measure is used to determine CPI cost of living increases when bargaining the pay rise component.
Ultimately the final agreement needs to be one that the workforce (you) will votes ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to, and so the all parties will be interested in your willingness to accept or fight any changes.
Will there be industrial action?
That depends entirely on the progress of investigations. We have had over 130 comments voicing concern with the current ‘offer’ from St John. If it became necessary. industrial action could theoretically only begin after 30th June 2021 when the current agreement expires. Protected industrial action is action that has been authorised by the Fair Work Commission. Previous industrial action has included the withholding of billing section of case sheets (which slows billing) and the wearing of campaign T-shirts over uniform. This campaign in 2008 resulted in a series of 5% pay increases, totalling a 30% pay increase, the highest increase ever negotiated in the industry.
How do we stay informed and up to date?
The AEAWA will provide regular updates on both Facebook and our website www.aeawa.com.au as we move through the bargaining process. Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any specific questions. In recent years management have become quite adept at releasing powerful propaganda material, and putting out consistent ‘good news’ messages. Witness the complete absence of any publication of negative feedback to the ‘South West Metro Pilot’, despite the fact it has been received (seen here).
This year St John have created several videos to introduce their proposed changes, and a dedicated ‘Yammer group’ hoping to spark discussion. Please be aware that any views management express on the merit of the proposed changes will be unavoidably biased. The recent ‘we have just finished meeting with your association and union’ video released by Deon Brink was pre-recorded well before our first EBA negotiations. Make no mistake, management have given a lot of thought to presenting these changes in the best light, and there will no no mention of the negative impacts these changes would have on our workforce, our industry conditions, and our future bargaining power.
Most of the changes St John seek to introduce are purely around cutting costs, divide the workforce into contract/permanent, increasing their ability to move you across shift patterns, alter hours, and reduce clinical CEP. Please be aware this will not result in more ambulances, St John have a track record of running the bare minimum of ambulances.
We urge our members not to engage with management in a Yammer discussion on these proposed changes, as this simply provides a platform for more misinformation, and more bias. We are also acutely aware that when Yammer discussions turn against management, they have a history of sanctioning officers, publicly berating officers and shutting the conversation down.
Should you require an unbiased opinion on whether a proposed change will be of benefit to YOU, please contact a delegate or email us at [email protected]
What can I do to help?
The best way to get involved is to discuss the offer and claims with your colleagues. Don’t engage with management in discussions (especially on Yammer) which are likely to be fruitless, and only provides a further platform for St John misinformation.
Talk with your work partner and make sure they are with aligned with either of the employee representative groups. Obviously the AEAWA would like officers to join and nominate us as their representative group, but regardless all officers need to be represented. You interests are better heard and stronger when you are with one of the groups.
Be patient, negotiations take a long time and there is a temptation to sign away conditions to ‘get it over with, and get the 1.5% pay rise’. Those conditions once lost will never come back, and so it is critical we evaluate the long term implications not just on us, but for the ambulance industry and workforce of the future.
While we negotiate, other matters will still arise and need to be dealt with by your representatives, we will communicate as normal on these matters, but please forgive us if our responses to routine emails slow a bit with the added workload. We endeavour to reply to all email within 24 hours.
I have another question not covered?
Please contact us on [email protected]