Catholic employers' attempt to frustrate protected action ballots fails
Protected action ballot approved
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has approved the applications for a formal ballot of members to allow protected industrial action to be undertaken in support of employees’ legitimate claims.
Formal ballots will now be conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) of members in the 290 schools who have indicated they wish to be balloted. Secret ballots to individual addresses will be posted commencing on Monday 17 August.
The employers’ attempt to frustrate the process and deny employees a ballot in the format employees wanted has failed.
Employers’ attempt to frustrate process rejected
In approving the applications to undertake a formal protected action ballot, the Commission has initiated a process whereby members in individual schools will conduct a ballot to determine if members in that school undertake protected industrial action.
The employers’ 10-page submission to the Fair Work Commission sought to confuse the straightforward provisions in the Act.
The employer approach and attitude was bordering on bizarre given their avowed commitment to employees’ industrial rights and the fact that in the 2012 round of bargaining employers accepted separate school ballots.
While the employer has stated that they were not seeking to oppose employees’ ability to access their industrial rights, the employers certainly sought to determine how employees might exercise those rights.
Crucial that all members vote
With the formal ballot now approved, the AEC will commence the balloting process on Monday 17 August.
Members will be sent ballot papers to their home address. It is crucial that their contact details are current and updated by this Friday 14 August when the rolls close. These details can be updated here.
Each ballot will be school site specific. This means the outcome of the ballot and the decision to approve protected industrial action is entirely in the hands of Chapter members at each balloted school.
To meet the provisions of the Act, 50% of members must vote for the ballot to be valid. If this criterion is met, protected industrial action is approved if 50% plus one of those who vote endorse the possible actions.
The formal ballot of members will close on Tuesday 1 September with the results declared by the AEC on Thursday 3 September.
The constraints of the Act mean that any action must be taken within 30 days of approval or the authority to take the action is lost. Five full working days’ notice is required before any protection action.
With the imminent school vacation this would mean that on approval of the ballot, those members wishing to undertake protected action would need to do so before the end of Term 3.
Our union will give thorough consideration to the date and type of any action given activities in schools at the end of a term.
A full ballot pack will be sent to all Chapters early next week to assist them with the balloting process. Members with questions regarding the ballot should contact their IEUA-QNT organiser.