AIRC sympathises with employees' lacklustre response to agreement

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AIRC sympathises with employees' lacklustre response to agreement

The AIRC has rejected a proposed s170LK [non-union]agreement for security firm Charter Workforce saying that considering the complicated and punitive payment system, it was no surprise that the majority of employees failed to return their consent forms in a timely fashion.

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11/03

 

The AIRC has rejected a proposed s170LK [non-union]agreement for security firm Charter Workforce saying that considering the complicated and punitive payment system, it was no surprise that the majority of employees failed to return their consent forms in a timely fashion.

Commissioner Larkin found that the company initially sent consent forms to the 21 full-time employees in July. On this form there were four points which stated that the employee acknowledged that he/she had been consulted about the agreement and its terms and that the company intended to apply for certification. Nine forms were returned which the company decided was insufficient. A second form issued in September was titled 'Important notice to all employees' and instructed them to return the form by a set date.

Sixteen forms were returned.

Commissioner Larkin noted that the ballot forms distributed to employees only provided for an employee's consent. 'If an employee did not consent to the making of the agreement then, I presume, the only course of action open to that employee was to not return the form. However, the advice to employees on 1 September 2003 required ‘all employees to return their ballot form’, arguably an instruction from management and I would imagine not lightly disregarded by an employee.'

The Commissioner concluded she was not satisfied that a valid majority of employees had genuinely made the agreement. She said that prior to the employer's September directive, only nine employees out of 21 had returned their consent form. Four more of these original forms were completed after the Commission proceedings in October and backdated. 'This is an unacceptable situation and arguably dishonest.'

The Commissioner went on to consider the terms of the agreement and concluded 'it is not surprising, in my view, that the employer received such a poor response rate of consent from its employees'.

She described the payment structure as 'complicated and confusing'. Employees were paid fortnightly while wages were averaged out over a four-week roster period.

Employees were classified on three basic levels, however, their rate of pay was dependent on a four-level payment structure within each classification which primarily reflected whether they worked days, nights or weekends. This meant the level could change from day-to-day and from shift to shift.

The Commissioner also pointed out that employees would be penalised for changing their shifts by being paid at the lower rate. She said it was 'clearly unfair to an employee who, for possible personal and/or family responsibility is required to forgo the correct payment for a higher penalty shift worked, to accommodate a complicated system'.

See: Charter Workforce Pty Ltd re Charter Workforce Enterprise Agreement 2003,AIRC PR940270, (November 6, 2003).

 

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