Employer turns to common law contracts to slash conditions
Workers know all too well they are facing increasing and sustained attacks on their wages and working conditions from employers who are emboldened by an industrial landscape that easily allows them to do so.
From employees at Murdoch University seeing their collective agreement (and hard-fought conditions) cancelled, to Streets Ice Cream workers facing (and eventually fending off) a 50 per cent cut to their take home pay – this is an issue facing workers in workplaces across Australia.
IEUA-QNT members in the early childhood sector have recently faced such an attack after their employer attempted to withdraw members’ existing collective agreement.
Staff at a Brisbane kindergarten were informed by their employer that their collective agreement would be terminated and employees’ wages and conditions would instead be determined by individual common law contracts.
IEUA-QNT Senior Industrial Officer John Spriggs said the move was prompted by inappropriate advice and a lack of consultation.
“Introducing individual employment contracts for each employee contains no security for an employee’s wages and conditions.
“These contracts could result in reduced wages, increased hours of duty, increased attendance at the kindergarten and the mandating of additional work requirements,” Mr Spriggs said.
After these potential changes emerged, our union sought a meeting with the kindergarten’s Central Governing Body, The Gowrie to address members’ concerns.
Following this, The Gowrie has engaged constructively with our union to address issues at this kindergarten.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said it was clear that a broken collective bargaining system — with laws that allow employers to terminate agreements —contributes to downward pressure on wages and conditions.
“It is disgraceful to see early childhood education employers embarking on the private industry bandwagon of attempting to strip back collective agreements,” Mr Burke said.
He said many employers were now treating collective bargaining with a sense of indifference and it was now time for our industrial rules to change.
“Clearly unions do make a difference; however, what is becoming increasingly evident is that the industrial legislation and the rules under which unions operate are broken.”