08 July 2008

World Youth Day and the AIRC

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) has declined to terminate the bargaining period between RailCorp and the Rail, Tram, and Bus Union (RTBU). This means that the planned industrial action is still on. However, this dispute is not over as the President of the AIRC has ordered the parties to return on Thursday for a full hearing.

Despite the government's insistence that it has a 4% offer on the table it is worth noting that the offer is 2.5% and a further 1.5% is offered provided that a further 400 jobs are shed from the sector. This appears to be a sticking point as the RTBU seems to want a 5% flat and no job cutting measures. The classic debate wage increases based on productivity increases.

I guess we will see what happens on Thursday.


It seems we might not have to wait until Thursday as it seems the RTBU leadership has reached a tentative agreement with the Deputy Premier and Minister for Transport, John Watkins. The agreement still needs to be approved by the union membership but if the leadership accepts the deal then they are likely to be pushing for the rank and file members to accept it.

If the rank and file accept the deal then the strike is averted.

Postscript II:

It seems that Kevin Rudd before making the big dash to the G-8 meeting in Japan has decided to weigh in on the RTBU planned strike action (seemingly already averted see above postscript). The PM's take on the planned industrial action was that any strike would be disrespecting the Holy Father!

Hold on a minute. I thought we lived in a land where there was separation between Church and State. I also did not realize that we had to show special reverence to a fella who had no qualms about telling Protestants that their Churches were not really Churches in the sense of the practicing of faith. Maybe respect is a two-way street.

In any event, is the NSW government completely blameless in this whole affair? It is easy to blame the unions but the reality is that there are two sides in this negotiation and as such both are to blame for drawing this thing out for as long as they have!

No matter what, it is possible to respect people, including the Pope, and still feel that you have a legitimate right to strike. Now, if that strike action causes a great deal of inconvenience then perhaps that is the point, particularly if you want people to understand what your cause is and the reasons behind the action...

Just my thoughts.


GJ said...

So what was the end deal??? or did the union cave because they are totally inefficient and have no case or lost public support.

Rob Baiton said...


Gotta say I do not exactly know what the deal was. However, I am hearing that there was an agreement to continue negotiations on a wage deal. This would seem to be a bit of a cave in to me.

The inefficiency stuff goes without saying. That was one of the sticking points of the 4% the government says that it offered.

Public support? Most Sydney-siders would probably think that the rail network was crap anyway so it is unlikely that there would have been much public support anyway.

I get the impression you're not a union man? :D

GJ said...

Let me state my thoughts here. Collective bargining is just an average, all people get the same. Personally I think I'm on the better side of average so therefore I become a loser under that system. I would rather put my own case and exact my worth than some "offical" acting on my behalf, and protecting the useless at the same time. Contrary to popular belief not all men are created equal therefore why should they be paid equal. If your under valued for your work you have the right to withdraw your labour by resigning, something I have done on several occassions.
On the other hand a have an enormous sense of fair play which many of my subordinates over the years would attest to.

Rob Baiton said...


I do not know you personally but you strike me as a reasonable and fair fella.

So, I am sure that there would be plenty to attest to what you have said.

My point was not that collective or bargaining is for everybody. It might protect some of those with less bargaining power. The reality is that as you move up the food chain your power increases.

Hence the idea of an individual work agreement that reflects your worth. I am a union man, always have been, but I am also a realist!

Hence, my current situation and the "ongoing" negotiation with my current employers to what my market worth is!

It can sometimes be a dilemma for sure.

I think that there are values in unions and this is in the sense of banding together the little people who might be able to exert more power as a collective unit than as individuals.

The idea of the collective unit is all very Star Trek and Borg like :D