The Contracting EBA covers some 10,000 ETU members, around half of the total Victorian Branch membership. A new EBA is up for grabs in 2014, and will take effect the year after.
The current Contracting agreement covers the four years from 2010-2015 – the longest agreement period that the ETU has ever negotiated.
‘Typically they’ve been two and three-year agreements,’ says Branch Assistant Secretary, Troy Gray. ‘But last time around – given there was political uncertainty coming, with conservative governments likely to get in – we deliberately went for a four-year agreement.’
Chance to work-up log of claims
Four years between one industry campaign and the next is a long time. So, when the details of the current Contracting agreement were hammered out, the Union made sure to provide for affected members to attend compulsory mid-term review meetings. These meetings will start from March 2013.
‘It’s a good chance to review the agreement – to have a look at how it’s operated in the last couple of years, to consider what changes could possibly be made, and to ensure that everyone’s got the wage outcomes delivered in the agreement,’ says Troy. By next March, those accumulated wage rises will amount to 12.5%.
Troy sees the most important part of next year’s meetings as an opportunity to develop a log of claims for the negotiation of the next Contracting EBA when the current agreement expires.
Ten thousand ETU members from hundreds of workplaces will attend the review meetings. Convening meetings on this sort of scale presents the Union with both logistical challenges and opportunities. For now, the ETU Branch Office is the favoured venue.
‘They’ll all be held downstairs at Arden Street, and we’ll probably conduct them in alphabetical order by contractor’, says Troy. ‘And there’ll be some surprises this time round, with original music and videos which have been produced especially for the meetings.’
Next year’s meetings will benefit both Contracting members and Union officials. You get the chance to meet your Organiser in person, and we will get a really good feel for what you think are the most important issues on the horizon for contractors.