Pay system raises demarcation issue

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Pay system raises demarcation issue

A change in work practices which required two TWU members to undertake 20 minutes of data entry work per day did not justify an award variation to the effect that only ASU members should do such work.

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A change in work practices which required two TWU members to undertake 20 minutes of data entry work per day did not justify an award variation to the effect that only ASU members should do such work.

The employer decided to change its pay system. Under the old system, the bundy cards were, once approved by an authorised employee, forwarded to the payroll office. The new system required the authorised employee to enter the data (once approved) into a computer terminal.

The effect of the change was that members of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) who approved pay data were now required to enter that data into a computer. The Australian Municipal, Clerical and Services Union (ASU) argued that the relevant awards and classification structures did not allow employees who were members of the TWU to input data into computer terminals. The ASU argued that only ASU members could perform such work.

The ASU accordingly applied to the Commission for a variation to the Clerks (Domestic Airlines) Award 1980 which would provide that the relevant data entry work could only be undertaken by employees eligible to be members of the ASU.

Commissioner Bacon of the Federal Commission stated that it is well established that the Commission will not interfere with the decisions of an employer to run its business unless such decisions create for the employees circumstances which are harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

The data input tasks occupied 20 minutes per day of the two relevant TWU members’ work day. The data input work was simply incidental or peripheral to the two employees’ substantive functions.

Consequently, the Commission held that the ASU had failed to show that the employer’s decision to alter the manner in which the work was performed created a harshness, unfairness or unreasonableness for the relevant employees (ASU v Ansett Air Freight; Print P9926).

 
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