Skip navigation
We Are Union VTHC
We Are Union Journal
News from the working class
Featured:
McKell Report finds bad bosses are driving apprenticeship drop outs

De-Gendering the EBA: ASU Members Win at Moorabool Council

Image description: a group of workers in high-vis are gathered in a large circle, listening to a person with a megaphone.

Last week Australian Services Union members at Moorabool Shire Council secured some massive improvements to their EBA as they ramped up their industrial action. Not only were they able to win some key victories in pay and conditions, they defeated some clauses proposed by management that would have severely affected the conditions they had come to depend on.

“We managed to remove a number of clauses that we felt had a lot of gender bias in them,” says ASU Vic-Tas delegate Nichole Knight.

“They wanted to change the spread of hours and remove the associated penalty rates in some areas. So we argued that there was a gender bias in that because this would particularly disadvantage staff who had parental or caring responsibilities. These were disproportionately women, many in part-time positions.”

Members were quick to point out the realities of the proposed changes.

“We got a lot of responses from members who had caring responsibilities - whether it was as a parent, or someone looking after an elderly parent, or a family member with a disability - and I think management hadn’t really considered how their proposed clauses would affect them.

“Throughout the process, once we tackled flexibility, we saw that same gender bias in other clauses too. Once we argued against one of the clauses, it became obvious where others needed to be changed.”

“There are so many structural inequalities in Enterprise Agreements that disadvantage women,” said ASU Vic-Tas Deputy Secretary Michelle Jackson, who worked closely with the bargaining team at Moorabool for many months.

“Women should have the same rights at work as men, and that means addressing those structural inequalities with our collective power.”

#mc_embed_signup{background:#00827e; clear:left; font:30px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;} /* Add your own Mailchimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */
Subscribe to Megaphone

It’s Not True Flexibility Without Fairness

With lockdowns seemingly happening every few months at the moment, employers are pursuing a return to the changes to the Fair Work Act that were implemented during 2020’s many disruptions. These changes meant, among other things, that hours worked which would normally have incurred penalty rates were not treated as such if requested by the worker.

For example, if you needed to change your hours due to caring/homeschooling responsibilities and your new hours fell on a period that was subject to a higher rate, it didn’t count. You only got your standard rate.

Amanda Threlfall, VTHC Assistant Secretary, says this proposal is ludicrous.

“Workers need flexibility that doesn’t come at the cost of pay and conditions, otherwise it’s not true flexibility,” she said.

A few months ago, Amanda wrote about this precise issue.

“Going forward, I believe we are likely to see far more flexibility in the workplace,” she wrote at the time. She was very happy to see the big win by the workers at Moorabool Shire, and especially the strong flexibility provisions they secured which benefit workers.

“The important thing is workers being able to pursue the kind of flexibility that works for them and their needs, not the kind that only benefits the boss,” she said.

“The crazy thing is that truly flexible work arrangements can benefit bosses too! We know that there are massive improvements in retention, health and safety (both physical and psychological), and even productivity. I don’t understand why employers aren’t embracing them as much as they should be.”

Union members at Moorabool used their industrial strength to keep the arrangements they had and build upon them. The collective result will benefit each individual in different ways, which is the marker of a good flexibility clause.

“Now we have a much stronger platform for individuals to negotiate for their own flexibility so it works for them,” said delegate Nichole Knight.

Last week Australian Services Union members at Moorabool Shire Council secured some massive improvements to their EBA as they ramped up their industrial action. Not only were they able to win some key victories in pay and conditions, they defeated some clauses proposed by management that would have severely affected the conditions they had come to depend on. “We managed to remove a number of clauses that we felt had a lot of gender bias in them,” says ASU Vic-Tas delegate Nicole Knight. 

Subscribe