News & Views

18th November 2016

IR Update (18/11/16) - NECA and ETU meet to commence bargaining for new EBAs

NECA representatives on behalf of a group of interested employers met with ETU officials in North Melbourne on Wednesday, 16 November 2016, to commence negotiations for a new EBA to cover either employees working across both the Service & Maintenance and Construction sectors, principally in a Service & Maintenance business, or principally in a Construction business.

Members may be aware that negotiations between a small group of individual employers and the ETU for a stand-alone Service & Maintenance EBA have been taking place now for some time and are considerably more advanced, although there is still some way to go.  These distinctly separate negotiations are scheduled to continue over the next few weeks.

This first meeting last Wednesday of interested employers represented by NECA was productive and cordial.  Both the Company and ETU representatives agreed to set out a programme of meetings in the weeks ahead to ensure things keep moving forward. The recent public confrontational rhetoric of building unions was noticeably absent; replaced with a more conciliatory and constructive approach.

Many of the provisions of the current EBA are not contentious, so it is anticipated that these can be rolled over into a new EBA.

There is a significant amount to work through, particularly in relation to Construction work, including the impact of the 2013 Building Code on any new EBA.  This is a crucial consideration as without a Code-compliant EBA, these employers will not be able to tender and attain government funded work, and is in turn fundamental to securing jobs.  The ETU acknowledges this, and has agreed to work with us to ensure any new EBA complies with the 2013 Building Code now in force, and any new Code that comes into force in the months ahead.

What happens next?
NECA on behalf of employers has prepared a modest list of claims, seeking flexibilities in the taking of RDO’s, changes to inclement weather conditions and other improvements in productivity.

We expect the ETU will shortly provide to us a list of their claims, including their proposal for any wage increases.  Both sides are required under the Fair Work Act to give proper consideration to each parties’ claims, so this process has some way to run yet.

Our next bargaining meeting with the ETU is scheduled for Wednesday, 23 November 2016 at NECA’s South Melbourne offices.

We will keep members informed.

We understand that some employers are considering making a good-will payment to their employees who have been without a wage increase for some time as a result of delays in bargaining. If you are considering such a payment, then we recommend you speak with a member of our Workplace Relations team to ensure such an approach is consistent with your enterprise bargaining objectives, and your obligations under the Fair Work Act and the 2013 Building Code.

Should you wish to engage directly with your workforce or with the ETU via NECA for a new EBA under a process that delivers a positive outcome for your business and for employees, and reduces any risk to your business, please contact our Workplace Relations team on 03 9645 5533 or on NECA IR to discuss.

Andrew McIlroy
Head of Workplace Relations & Legal Services