Rail Tram and Bus Union Queensland Branch
 
 
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Members to get their say

Members will be aware that negotiations have been going on for a relatively short time to try and get an Enterprise Agreement.

Negotiations have taken place under quite different circumstances than previous rounds with the LNP Government making large changes to the workplace laws that govern how agreements can be made.

The RTBU is a democratic union Ė weíve always been about putting membersí views first. Itís never been any different. Recently, when faced with the prospect of QR being pushed along by the Qld Government to use the new laws we were concerned that it could end up in a circumstance where members had no say over their terms and conditions.

QR has used the new laws to seek the assistance of the Commission. The Commission has the power to conciliate for 14 days during which it works to get QR and rail unions to reach an agreement. If that fails then the Commission can arbitrate Ė that means making a binding determination on what you are entitled to without you having a direct say by way of a vote.

Unions want to negotiate. 4 weeks ago QR put in the application seeking the assistance of the Commission and they supported continuation of negotiation but weíve now reached the stage that there is unlikely to be swift or immediate progress through discussions.

Ahead of this process Ė we were concerned about a few things. The change agenda put forward by QR is extensive and controversial Ė to put it nicely. We however have been bargaining in good faith attempting to achieve what members have been telling us they want: Protection of their conditions and a fair wage increase.

Unions thought that members should be able to let both QR and the Commission understand their view through a vote. We put that view at the most recent meeting in the Commission and it was agreed, albeit with a few conditions.

There had to be a proposal which people could read and consider. To this end, QR are currently drafting their proposed agreement which Unions will then be able to review and have an opinion on but itís imperative that you understand that itís not an agreed position Ė itís a QR document.

A joint statement would be developed breaking down the agreement into its clausesĖ it would show the proposed clause, QRís view and the combined Unionís view of what impact it would have. It would be fact based, and not a PR exercise.

There will be a road show where QR and the Union side will get a say. A commitment was sought from Unions not to campaign against the application, which Unions have agreed to. We believe that members can make an informed judgement once all the facts have been provided to them. Therefore, you will not see us campaigning against the agreement. This should not be construed as the Unions endorsing the agreement. We are simply wishing for members to have the right to say whether they want these conditions or not.

Once the presentations are done, there is to be a vote. If the proposal is voted for, the agreement will be formalised. For clarity there is no minimum number of people required to vote Ė itís down to whoever votes so making sure you have your say is absolutely vital.

The process outlined above will commence shortly, so you will see plenty of information being put forward in the workplace.

Itís important that members are informed of what is being proposed by the employer. You are urged to not only attend the meeting in your area, but to also encourage your workmates to come along. We look forward to seeing you there!

Unity is Strength

Owen Doogan
State Secretary