Thursday, 21 September 2017

Joint unions concerned about new Enterprise Agreement proposal

Joint unions concerned about new Enterprise Agreement proposal – September 2017 (PDF version)

After months of further delays, a clearer proposal has been released by Water NSW and approved by the NSW Government that contains a range of proposals that are of significant concern. In particular, the complex pay proposal seems to be full of holes with the potential for members to receive little or no pay increases.

The officials for the CPSU NSW, Australian Services Union (ASU) and Professionals Australia (PA) met to discuss the proposals and review how the Unions could respond.

The next Bargaining Meeting is scheduled for 25-26 September. The Joint Unions will then know more details about the proposals, and any potential changes the Unions win, after these dates. What we do know so far from their complex offer is below.

We need your feedback! After seeking further information and clarification from Water NSW, the Unions will be scheduling meetings with members and potential members to gauge how members are responding to the proposal. It is really important that members and potential members get involved so the Unions can ensure we get the best deal that is suitable for the Unions’ membership.

The cuts to conditions that we know about so far are:

Only one guaranteed pay rise! The proposal offers an initial 2% based on the 30 June 2017 salaries. For former DPI and SCA employees, the Fair Work Commission pay rise will be used to off-set the 2%.

Former SWC – 2% 2017

Former DPI – 0.35% 2017

Former SCA – 0.1% 2017

In addition to this, Water NSW is offering one off bonuses each year. This will not increase your base salary but be a lump sum. The badly named STI (Short Term Incentives) may provide a bonus to some employees based on performance.

The current State Water enterprise agreement has a trial performance based salary scheme. In the first year, many employees received the increases. After the budget was impacted, the numbers of employees getting the further increases reduced significantly.

And there is more! There are no steps within the “Band Range” for the top three level classifications, and no steps in the “Grades” for the first 7 level classifications. The additional 2% increase to base salary applies to the Band and Grades, not the individuals.

Rather than move up each step every year, employees pay may increase by the 2% (based on performance) and may progress higher within their Band or Grade. How this happens is not clear, as progression (increases to base pay of more than 2%) is variable.

For 296 employees, pay rises to their base salary will be 1% or 0% meaning any additional income would be from getting an STI, as one off payments. For some employees on ‘legacy range’ who are not ‘above range’, they may get an increase of their base salary of up to 1.7% if their performance is ‘brilliant’.

Former DPI and SCA employees to still move to 36 hour weeks with no increase in pay. This has already been rejected by the Unions as not acceptable, and remains as part of the Water NSW proposal.


The Unions will be meeting with Water NSW on the 25-26 September to discuss and clarify their proposal. Members’ meetings will be scheduled following this so we can inform you about the proposal, and get members’ feedback and input to how you want the Unions to respond.

If members overwhelmingly reject the proposal, then the Unions may be asking members to consider possible Industrial action. Members from DPI and SCA have certainty with conditions and pay rises, and SWC members only conditions and no pay rises. SWC members should also be afforded at least the 2.5% that the rest of the government services get.

Industrial Action under the National System requires the Unions to formally ballot all members, through a Protected Action Ballot Order, or PABO. Often just the process of members endorsing a Protected Action Ballot is enough to show management that employees are serious in demanding a better offer.

Over the coming weeks, the Unions will be consulting with members about the proposal by Water NSW to see if members accept or reject their offer. Where members strongly reject the employer’s package we can discuss the next steps members can take to build a strong response across the membership to ensure a better outcome is achieved for everyone.