There are clearly some sections of our membership who are not happy about the proposed trade-off of the O2BA allowance in return for the 10/14 O/T component of members’ wages being included in our total superable rates of pay for the first time. A few points to consider:
The Union originally fought for and won the retention of the O2BA allowance (even though the equipment was no longer in use) because the allowance was superable, meaning that it’s abolition would adversely affect O2BA members’ superannuation pay-outs. We’re now proposing to trade off this allowance which is only payable to some members so that all members can pick up more than $70 per week in extra super benefits. Everyone’s super pay-outs will now be way in front, including the O2BA operators.
The one sticking point in negotiations last week was our claim for the rostered O/T becoming superable. It never has been, no matter how many times over the last 20 years and more that our Union has argued for it, and it wasn’t going to be this time either unless we agreed to some sort of trade off. The Government was demanding that the total cost (an extra $2M) had to be fully funded by cost offsets, and was even arguing that the 17% general wage increase should be reduced to 16% to pay for it. The IRC Judge conciliating the negotiations was supportive of Government’s demand for cost offsets.
Faced with this deadlock, the status of the O2BA, the threat to our 17% increase and the fact that a state-wide strike was due the next day if we had no agreement, the Union’s negotiators offered the O2BA allowance as a rock bottom trade-off. That’s $400K per annum (and shrinking) versus the $2M they were after. They argued, we refused to move and the whole deal nearly fell over, but a last-minute agreement was eventually secured.
With everything else agreed, the State Committee was hardly going to lead a state-wide strike over what would have ended up being a fight for an allowance for equipment no longer in service. The truth is that the O2BA allowance was always going to come under pressure. We might have even fought for and kept it now, but what about 30, 20, 10 or even 5 years when the sets were long-gone? Further, while ever the allowance continued then our ability to use it as any sort of bargaining chip was always going to shrink each year due to retirements. When you look at it, we’ve traded them something which will eventually be worth nothing in return for something which will always be worth $millions to all of our members.
The Department pays the following amounts into your super account, additional to your wages, as employer contributions: 18% for SSF, 17% for SASS and 7% (to rise to 9% by 2002) for FSS. With these changes, the Department will now have to pay an additional $5.51 per week for FSS members, $13.38 for SASS members and $14.17 for SSF members. The O2BA was worth $10.91 per week, plus (if you were in SSF) $1.96 in employer super for a total benefit of $12.87. That still leaves even the O2BA members roughly 50 cents per week better off, and that’s before we consider the extra $30,000 or so in your retirement benefits.
The inclusion of 10/14 rostered O/T within superable pay is without doubt the most important achievement of our Union in this award round. But none of the email or faxes currently circulating on this issue (including this notice) have any bearing on whether we as a Union accept the proposed Award. The only debate – and vote – that counts will occur at the General Meetings to be held later this month.
Friday 14th April, 2000
PS – The Union’s principal negotiators in this Award round (ie the President, Darryl Snow and myself) are both O2BA qualified, as are several other officials on the Union’s State Committee. CSR