Employment news — 20/01/09


Employment news — 20/01/09

AWU and Qantas act to keep jobs here; Rio drops plan for driverless trains; NSW unions push Govt on job growth.


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AWU and Qantas act to keep jobs here; Rio drops plan for driverless trains; NSW unions push Govt on job growth.
AWU and Qantas act to keep jobs here
Qantas and the AWU have reached an agreement to stop jobs going offshore.
As part of negotiations for a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement Qantas has agreed to a more open process in discussing how jobs can be kept in Australia.  
AWU national secretary, Paul Howes, said the union and the company together will look for alternatives to out-sourcing work and off-shoring Qantas aircraft.
‘I want to congratulate our union's members who showed that we can be stronger together in times of economic adversity,’ Howes said.
‘Unions can deliver more job security opportunities by developing constructive working relationships with management.’ 
New agreement accepted
Meanwhile, Qantas aircraft maintenance engineers in Melbourne and Sydney overwhelmingly voted last week to accept a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement which will be in place for four years — the yes vote was more than 86%.
The agreement provides:
  • pay increases for most aircraft maintenance workers between 4.53% and 5.0% per annum, with some members getting as much as 6.5%
  • improved superannuation
  • apprentice pay increases between 10% and 13% per annum.

No industrial action
Negotiations for the agreement involved delegates from the AWU and other Qantas unions took place over a four-month period, without the need for any industrial action.
Rio drops plan for driverless trains
Rio Tinto has reportedly cancelled plans to make the iron ore trains at its WA operations driverless because of the economic crisis.
The $US371 million move was one of the causes of strike action in the Pilbara late last year as the company continued to refuse to negotiate a collective agreement with the CFMEU.
Rio Tinto is insisting that it will continue to have direct negotiations with its employees.
AWAs expiring
However, the CFMEU is saying that as more workers come off expired AWAs, they will want to have a union-backed agreement.
Under the Fair Work Bill currently the subject of a Senate Inquiry, AWAs will be able to continue indefinitely provided both parties agree. 
14,000 jobs to go
Meanwhile, Rio Tinto is moving quickly to make the first of 14,000 job cuts it has promised the market as it battles to reduce its debt burden.
Last week, the company slashed hundreds of jobs at its Australian head office in Perth and 241 workers and contractors have been sacked at its Utah copper operations in the United States.
Late last, year Rio Tinto announced it would axe 14,000 jobs from its global workforce and reduce its $US38.9 billion ($A57.6 billion) debt obligations.
‘Rio Tinto must respond, like so many other companies, to this global economic crisis, which may continue to deteriorate,’ a company spokesman said. 
NSW unions push Govt on job growth
Unions NSW is pushing for an urgent meeting with the NSW Government to consider strategies for creating more jobs, particularly in regional areas.
Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon said that with the unemployment rate in New South Wales reaching 5.2%, Unions NSW is asking the government to focus on job-growth strategies to off-set future job losses.
‘Whilst the figures are disturbing for NSW and Australia more generally, the figures in regional areas such as the Illawarra and Central Coast show these are the areas where the government needs to focus on job growth,’ Lennon said.
‘Any job growth strategies adopted in these areas need to be coupled with education and training strategies.'
‘Research shows jobs opportunities appear where the skills are available. By improving education and training opportunities in regional areas they will be more attractive to investment opportunities that create jobs.’
In the meantime, Unions NSW said the government should act immediately by increasing social services available to the unemployed.
‘The government needs to create better financial counselling services for people who have suddenly become unemployed as well as job generating schemes to encourage people back into the workforce,’ Lennon said.
Unions NSW is also calling on the Federal Government to implement a further stimulus package more focused on job-growth strategies in regional areas.
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