National train crew fight AWAs
From October 5, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) stepped up its campaign to support 125 workers on the interstate passenger trains, by holding protest rallies at railway terminals in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, and calling on passengers to protest to the management about its policy on individual contracts. Since June this year, the RTBU have been seeking a collective agreement with employer Serco to cover the train crews employed on the Indian Pacific, The Ghan and The Overland. Over 80 per cent of the 150 workers have signed a petition calling for a union-negotiated collective agreement. "Serco are stonewalling on collective bargaining, despite the workers' clear desire for that, so we are now taking our claim to the public", said RTBU National Secretary, Roger Jowett. At a meeting with RTBU national officers on October 13, Serco management refused to accept that the petitions expressed the wishes of the workers. On September 10, GSR/Serco agreed to withdraw their latest "information package" and Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) offer. However, the company says it will issue a revised version, and continue to reject the employees' request for a union-negotiated collective agreement to replace the AWAs. The company's new package, however, will acknowledge employees' rights regarding AWAs, that its employees are not required to sign any new AWAs, unless they genuinely choose to do so. It now agrees that if employees don't sign the new AWAs, then they will continue to work and be paid according to existing AWAs. This important but limited success was achieved because On-Train crew have met and put forward their views, and because the RTBU was taking the company to the Federal Court the next day. This means that, unless the employees agree to do it, they cannot be required to work according to the Serco On-Train Hospitality Award, which is the safety net award with lower pay and conditions than the current AWAs. Meetings of GSR/Serco crews have produced a preliminary log of claims for the enterprise bargaining agreement. Claims so far include: * pay increase for all GSR/Serco employees of 4.5 per cent per year for two years; * an aggregate pay rate for all purposes which shows the base rate for calculations; * a master roster to be posted not exceeding 24 weeks, with permanent lines, defined start and finish times, and defined days off; * ten days sick leave per year to be cumulative. Sick leave to be counted as the actual day(s) or part day(s) absent, not rostered hours; * a dispute settlement procedure which provides access to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and arbitration if necessary, if a dispute cannot be resolved; * all training time required by the company to be in the master roster and paid for at the appropriate rate; * elected union representatives to be recognised by the company; * genuine casual employment that does not undermine permanent employment.
* * *Acknowledgements Rail, Bus and Tram Worker