Weekly Bulletin


Number 28       6 August 2023


Bargaining for a new EBA for the Cth Public Service has stalled. The last offer from the APS was for a 3 year EBA with the following increases:
Year 1 4.0%
Year 2 3.5%
Year 3 3.0%


[Note this is from the Sydney Morning Herald as reported on MSN] Story by Jonathan Rivett

    Question: Our workplace is going through a protracted enterprise bargaining process. I'm increasingly concerned about the proposals I can see our employer is making. Should I join the union?
    Answer: I asked Associate Professor Stephen Clibborn, the co-director of the Sydney Employment Relations Research Group at the University of Sydney, to offer his expertise on your question. His response was so thorough, thoughtful and (I think) helpful, I'm passing it on in full:
    "In general, union-negotiated collective agreements deliver higher pay and conditions for employees. With the exception of those with rare and in-demand skills, an individual employee is less able to negotiate successfully with employers due to their relative power imbalance. The higher the proportion of employees in a given workplace who are union members, the more power they have and the more effectively they can negotiate to improve pay and conditions.
    "Union members pay membership fees to be in the union and make sacrifices, such as forgoing pay while participating in strikes, to advance bargaining in ways that influence employers to agree to more favourable terms of employment.
    "However, the higher pay and conditions in a collective agreement benefit both union members and non-union employees also covered by the agreement. So some employees might ask, `Why pay the union dues and sacrifice pay during industrial action if I'm going to get the same result?' Such an approach might seem logical but it is a narrow, short-term and risky approach.
    "The problem with this approach is that the same result is not guaranteed if too many employees sit back and let their colleagues do the work of bargaining for them. The smaller the group of workers negotiating with management, the smaller their power relative to the employer.
    "Union density in Australia is dropping and now only 12.5 per cent. [It was well above 50 per cent less than 50 years ago.] It's less in the private sector and much less in some industries. So it really does require people to join unions for enterprise bargaining to achieve the gains - and to resist some management proposals that the reader might be concerned about.
    "This so-called `free rider' problem has led some to call for a change in the law to allow unions to charge a bargaining fee to non-members who benefit from collective agreements negotiated by the union. However, the IR minister, Tony Burke, has indicated this is not on the government's policy agenda."

Should you join the union? If you want to contribute to a stronger employee bargaining position and show solidarity with colleagues, that may be a very good idea. If you're concerned about what your employer is proposing as part of the enterprise bargaining process, you should definitely join.


We sought discussions with Optus re the alleged underpayments. Optus saw no priority in this matter and responded as follows:

    We understand from your email, that the issues being raised are matters arising under the Employment Partnership Agreement. In accordance with the EPA, issues of concern should in the first instance be discussed with an employee's immediate supervisor or manager. This is set out in Appendix B of the EPA as part of the Issue Prevention and Resolution procedure (Procedure).
    The Procedure is intended to create an environment of cooperation, mutual respect and open communication directly between management and employees.
    We note that employees may seek assistance from a representative at any of the stages set out in the procedure and recognise your role in representing relevant employees/members as part of the process.
    To ensure that these matters are raised in accordance with the Procedure, we'd ask that your members raise this directly with the relevant manager / supervisors.
    If this has already occurred, please provide the relevant details (including who has been involved and the respective positions said to be unresolved) in order to advance to the appropriate stage of the Procedure and ensure the right people are involved.


We responded to Optus pointing out our approach.

    Thank you for your response. We are not raising it under the DR Procedure. The FWC has no jurisdiction.
    We intend to file the matter in the Court seeking payment, back payment (for 6 years), interest and penalties.

Late news: Optus is now seeking to meet,


Following consultation with Telstra, travel related payments will increase and become effective as of 1 August 2023.
Some extracts below. The key changes are:
A 6.8% increase to the meals and incidentals components; and
A substantial $51 per night increase to country centres accommodation rate, going from $120 per night to $171 per night, in addition to significant increases in the capital city accommodation rates.

Existing pre 1 August 2023:
Location	Accommodation	Bfast	Lunch	Dinner	Incids	Total
Adelaide	150.00		25.00	27.00	47.00	18.00	267.00
Brisbane	150.00		25.00	27.00	47.00	18.00	267.00
Canberra	185.00		25.00	27.00	47.00	18.00	302.00
Darwin		176.00		26.00	30.00	50.00	19.00	301.00
Hobart		140.00		25.00	30.00	50.00	18.00	263.00
Melbourne	170.00		25.00	27.00	47.00	18.00	287.00
Perth		150.00		23.00	25.00	43.00	18.00	259.00
Sydney		190.00		25.00	28.00	47.00	18.00	308.00
Country Centres	120.00		25.00	28.00	47.00	19.00	239.00
Camping Rate	93.00		20.00	21.00	36.00	16.00	186.00
Night rate of frequent absence allowance			 26.00

Effective 1 August 2023:
Location	Accommodation	Bfast	Lunch	Dinner	Incids	Total
Adelaide	171.00		26.70	28.84	50.20	19.22	295.96
Brisbane	171.00		26.70	28.84	50.20	19.22	295.96
Canberra	191.00		26.70	28.84	50.20	19.22	315.96
Darwin		200.00		27.77	32.04	53.40	20.29	333.50
Hobart		171.00		29.70	32.04	53.40	19.22	302.36
Melbourne	191.00		26.70	28.84	50.20	19.22	315.96
Perth		171.00		24.56	26.70	45.92	19.22	287.41
Sydney		190.00		26.70	29.90	50.20	19.22	316.02
Country Centres	171.00		26.70	29.90	50.20	20.29	298.09
Camping Rate	93.00		21.36	22.43	38.45	17.09	192.32
Night rate of frequent absence allowance			 28.00


The ACTU has released polling by Essential Research showing very strong support for the Federal Government to act on wages, wage theft and closing loopholes to stop labour hire being used to drive down wages and conditions. In a warning to the business lobby the polling has also found that the majority of Australians think big business have too much power.
The research was conducted in marginal seats in Queensland and Western Australia from 27th June to 3rd July, and found strong support for Government to act to help workers:

  • 70% agree Government should act to protect workers from wage theft
  • 65% agree Government should act to increase the minimum wage
  • 60% agree Government should act to increase wages for workers in general
  • 56% agree Government should close labour hire loopholes.
    The research also found that Australians would be more likely to vote for the Labor Government if they move on workplace legislation:
  • 58% say they are more likely to vote for Labor if they increase the minimum wage
  • 58% more likely on protecting workers from wage theft
  • 57% on increasing wages in general
  • 47% on closing labor hire loopholes
  • 44% on changing workplace laws to enable unions to negotiate higher wages
    On issues of trust, unions are clearly more favourable that big business. Twice as many people believe big business has too much power compared to unions with a massive 59% saying big business had too much power, while 30% said unions had too much power.
    ACTU President Michele O'Neil "This research shows that the big money spent by the business lobby across TV, Radio and Print trying to discredit Government plans to improve workers job security and wages is failing and a waste.
  • 0428 942 878 dan.dwyer@cwunion.net Dan Dwyer
          Secretary/Lawyer - industrial matters & advice
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