What Is The CRU Doing To Protect Members Rights?
The Combined Rail Unions (CRU) have advised the rail entities that we intend to make a Scope Order application with the Fair Work Commission. That means we will be asking the Fair Work Commission to hear our argument as to why one agreement should be made to cover all employees of Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and RailCorp, and to ensure any new Agreement will cover all employees should the CRU and the rail entities be unable to resolve this matter over the coming week.
Why We Have Sought One Agreement
The CRU has consistently sought to clarify the “scope of the bargaining” (who will be covered by any agreement(s)), particularly in regards to members within RailCorp (often referred to as “residual RailCorp”). To date, the rail entities have refused to provide a clear position on whether any agreement would cover these employees.
The CRU has provided the following reasons as to why we are seeking a single agreement:
(i) Scope (coverage) is a fundamental matter which needs to be resolved as a preliminary point, otherwise bargaining is inefficient and proceeding on a false premise that the unions will agree to five agreements. You have told us that you want one agreement and we heard you.
(ii) The proposed “splitting” of the replacement enterprise agreement into three agreements in Sydney Trains, and five across the three rail entities, divides the workforce in these negotiations and in the future and has created and will create tensions between groups of staff. The CRU and our members are concerned that the current and future capacity of members to bargain and be represented will be reduced if they are covered by separate agreements.
(iii) Together, these groups of members have better bargaining power than if they are separate where each group has less bargaining power and the negotiations are less fair.
(iv) The rail entities have not taken the views of the employees into consideration when deciding to split the agreement and not agree to a single-enterprise agreement covering all employees of Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and RailCorp (excluding employees on Senior Service contracts). This is what the membership has stated and wants and has been confirmed at Novembers delegates conference and then at subsequent workplace meetings held throughout December.
(v) Having one agreement has meant efficient bargaining in the past.
(vi) A single agreement has been the result of a series of negotiations which have resulted in a series of agreements which protect the rights and conditions of employment of employees in the rail industry;
(vii) The history of having members in the one agreement has led to minimal disputation and industrial action;
(viii) While the entities have different names, (RailCorp, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains), for all intents and purposes they are closely operationally linked and are not geographically, operationally or organisationally distinct.
(ix) There is no geographic, organisational or operational rationale for having more than one agreement due to the interlinked nature of the entities and their operations and the work performed by members. For example, while NSW Trains only employs train crew, On-board staff, Booking staff and station staff, Sydney Trains, in addition to its existing staff (including Train Crew, Station Staff, Admin, Maintenance) provides employees to perform services to both organisations including:
rolling stock maintenance;
signaling and train control services;
operating policies and procedures;
(x) Members are concerned that their future capacity to bargain and be represented will be reduced if they are covered by separate agreements.
(xi) The current agreement is an amalgamation and rationalisation of the conditions of employment previously encompassed by the merger of the State Rail Authority and the Rail Infrastructure Corporation (a previous merger between the Rail Access Corporation and Rail Services Authority).
(xii) The CRE want to delete/include or change conditions in a different way in different agreements. How can the parties negotiate efficiently on these matters when the members want one agreement?
What Are The Rail Entities Doing In Retaliation?
Since December the Combined Rail Unions have tried to bargain- seeking one Agreement. Unfortunately, the rail entities have taken the position that when the CRU either disagree with the rail entities or seeks to preserve the rights of members that the unions are not bargaining properly.
Rather than continuing to negotiate the rail entities have decided to lodge a dispute with the Fair Work Commission which will be listed next Wednesday, 5 March 2014.
1. The CRU will be lodging an application for Scope Orders with the Fair Work Commission should the matter of the number of agreements not be finalised by Wednesday, 5 March 2013.
2. The CRU will attend the dispute hearing at the Fair Work Commission next Wednesday, 5 March 2013 and fight for the rights and conditions of all rail workers.