For every worker who’s sentenced,
Ten thousand won’t forget,
Where they gaol a workers for striking,
It’s the rich buggers country yet
—Helen Palmer, ‘the Ballad of 1891’ .
There are several clauses in the General Employees Agency Agreement (GEAA 2009) in the Australian Taxation Office that have opened up avenues for management to harass and intimidate union members. These types of clauses can be found in enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs) across the public service.
Such EBAs constitute direct attacks on industrial democracy in the public service.
There are a number of attacks being made, but let’s focus on two (2) in particular.
Firstly clauses in the current EBA are poorly worded and give management power to harass and intimidate union members.
The offending clauses are:
107.4. Where action under 107.1 and 107.2 does not lead to an acceptable improvement in performance, unsatisfactory performance procedures should take place.
108.3. If, at any time, an ongoing employee’s work performance becomes unsatisfactory, a written
final warning will be issued to the employee by the Director. This would usually follow action consistent with clause 107.2.
These clauses are so poorly drafted that it is not clear where the informal assessment of competence (Clause 107) process ends and the the formal test of efficiency (Clause 108) process begins.
It is also unclear which clause in the EBA invokes the final warning (is it 107.2, 107.4 or 108.3?).
This can make for bad outcomes in for members in the workplace.
It also confuses other remedies that may be more suited in individual cases.
For example, a manager may embark on a PIP and then decides half way through the ‘performance improvement process’ that it is all too hard and bullies the member into resigning under Clause 101 of the GEAA 2009. Such pay-outs are fully taxed and do not have tax concessions available under the ‘true’ redundancies [Former tax officer loses claim against ATO in payout ruling].
that they have a ‘duty of care’ to make sure members are medically fit to undergo the formal test of efficiency (cl 108).
organisers about the rights of the members can be confused and unintelligible.For example, once a member signs a Performance Improvement Plan you may not have the right to question the process or the processes reviewed.
(attached) that ‘protected industrial action is not available to members’ under the Fair Work Act (also attached).
organise is curbed.
inflicted on union members.
sufficiently to fight for industrial democracy as well as wage
comments section (below).
Former Commonwealth Public Servant
and CPSU Member