The CPSU NSW bargaining team met with Mercer on 22 February 2023 to continue EA negotiations.
We are pleased to report that since the last meeting Mercer has moved on a significant number of issues that were previously a bar to finalising an in-principle enterprise agreement.
Positive developments are reported below.
Mercer has, appropriately, withdrawn their clause that would have ensured any work practice that is the subject of a dispute under the enterprise agreement could continue throughout the dispute resolution process.
Whilst Mercer has refuses the CPSU NSW’s claim to ensure the status quo is maintained during a dispute, this is a welcome and productive back down from an employer that should have known better in the first place.
Mercer previously sought to remove significant Parental Leave entitlements from the enterprise agreement – a legally binding and enforceable document – in favour of moving them to an un-enforceable policy that sits outside of the enterprise agreement. This meant that, even if a policy was more beneficial than the enterprise agreement, Mercer could withdraw it at any time if determined to.
Mercer has now agreed to re-insert critical Parental Leave provisions into the enterprise agreement which will, subject to agreement on final drafting, relieve significant anxieties held by members.
The CPSU NSW will work with Mercer to perfect the clause to bring the agreement to a close.
Previous attempts to deny additional redundancy payments have been withdrawn.
Despite Mercer touting a new allowance in the EA, as presented to its employees, this entitlement has been conveniently disregarded and left out of the current iteration of the enterprise agreement.
This is now being explained away by Mercer as, simply, a “mistake”.
In response, the CPSU NSW’s pre-existing claim for a health and wellbeing allowance must be re-visited.
Transparency in the redundancy process and calculations has been a fundamental claim by bargaining representatives and it is especially relevant in the current context.
Mercer has made improvements to the current draft enterprise agreement and the CPSU NSW will continue with all efforts to refine this clause.
Do not be fooled. A policy is not your friend.
Mercer may present the inclusion of certain conditions in a policy as a great thing. The problem is – they have nothing to do with the enforceable legal rights under a negotiated and agreed Enterprise Agreement. Indeed, this has been explicitly stated in the current enterprise agreement draft.
Policies are subordinate to an enterprise agreement and present an opportunity for Mercer to undermine the current draft agreement and cut back to the bone to only basic legal obligations.
Policies can change at any time. Consultation with the CPSU NSW will not prevent Mercer from implementing any policy change that it wants. This means that, whilst you may see great benefits from a policy for example, paid parental leave entitlements, there is nothing preventing Mercer from deciding to change or abolish the policy altogether from the date the new enterprise agreement is approved.
The CPSU NSW has made it blatantly clear to Mercer that any misinformation from Mercer employees in a managerial role or position of power regarding the progress of negotiations, will absolutely not be tolerated.
The next meeting is scheduled for one hour on 27 February.
The current schedule has Mercer putting out the EA for the 7 day access period on 1 March 2023. Subject to further discussion on the above issues and drafting in general, this schedule may need to be minimally adjusted to allow time for consideration of a final agreement.
An all-members meeting will be held online at 1:30pm on 28 February.
A link to the meeting is below:
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 884 2404 4125
Please join us to discuss what we hope to be the final issues that may be standing in the way of reaching an in-principle enterprise agreement.
Kylee Bell – CPSU NSW Delegate
Erinna Madge – CPSU NSW Delegate
Bart McKenzie – CPSU NSW Organiser
Shane Elliot – CPSU NSW Organiser
Community and Public Sector Union (NSW Branch)
What can you do?
Give a copy of this bulletin to your colleagues.
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Not a member? join online – https://cpsunsw.org.au/join/