The Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA) and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) have reached an agreement on changes to the Graphic Arts, Printing and Publishing Award 2010.
The two bodies have negotiated the consolidation and removal of competencies, while adding new competencies, and updating their point values. The point system is used in the case of industrial disputes over wages, where a print worker can add up their skills to determine what they should be paid.
The PIAA says that there are no material changes in wages.
Andrew Macaulay, CEO, PIAA, says, “PIAA has sought AMWU acknowledgement that in order for the Industry to be sustainable, we need to adapt. Gone are the days where either of us can afford to have costly and uncertain protracted industrial disputes. That was a lose-lose situation for everyone.
Lorraine Cassin, Print Secretary, AMWU, says, "The classifications under the revised Award remain the same. The changes are will affect the training skills package and competencies. The AMWU has led the charge on updating this section of the Award, to ensure that workers are able to access meaningful training and to ensure their skills are recognised with formal qualifications.
"We support the new points system and have been arguing for it for many years. The points system provides an accurate representation of a worker’s skills and competencies. This is important for both the worker and the employer – in that the skills of an individual and a workplace are represented correctly.
"We do not see why the points system would make it either easier or harder to deliver wage rises."
Paul Mitchell, workplace relations manager, PIAA, says, “Mostly employees and employees will sit down and work out wages without dispute, generally in a consultative way.
“The points system is only used for major disputes, where a significant number employees are contesting the scale.
“With the PIAA and the union there were robust discussions. There were the old competencies, and the new ones developed, with others added, deleted, consolidated.
“Andrew [Macaulay] and Lorraine [Cassin, AMWU Print secretary] worked together on the Industry Reference Committee to develop the new package with the competencies. The new competencies that the union proposed translated to the award.
“We were just worried that it was not exactly going to translate from the old to the new. The union were trying to sneak in a few things. For instance, they presented a document to the FWC that had a number of competencies that went from three point to four points, and was unexplained.
“There was a competency in the existing award called create a simple language markup designation, which had three points, in their proposed change they gave the same competency four points.
“The concern is that when you add the points it would impact on wages.
“So we sat down with the Union and went through competency by competency. It was more beneficial to industry as there were less competencies. For every one that had went up, another went down.
“So for creating 3D digital models it went from five to three, but on balance the total points available were lowered.”
Macaulay says, “We are at a critical time to secure funding to reinvigorate VET and TAFE nationwide, a key part of that is having agreed industry competencies. The peak employer association and industry are in key negotiations with funding. It is a critical time, and an industry association that has nothing to do with the industry is obstructing the path forward, it is not good.”
Aspects of the deal have raised concerns in some quarters, with the AI Group (Australian Industry Group) saying it may result in certain trades getting higher pay.
However Macaulay says, “AI Group may be our friends philosophically on some macroeconomic issues, but they do not understand nor represent the intricacies of the print and packaging industries. This training package has been years in the making. It has been facilitated by Price Waterhouse Coopers, the best consultancy in Australia. Our Industry has led the way with this. It is disappointing to see an unrelated entity interfere in industry endorsed plans.”
Cassin also rejects the AI Group submission, saying "The AIG is opposing the updated competencies going into the award despite the fact that competencies represent the changes in the printing and packaging industry. The updated competencies are part of the industry training package – ICP – which can only be updated after a forensic investigation of skills utilised and comprehensive consultation with the industry and a case for change developed.
"The AIGs position of just saying no is nonsensical and wrong. They have no understanding of the printing and packaging industry and have provided no factual evidence for their position. They appear to be hell bent on simply delaying the finalisation of the Award Review, which they have known about for over two years.
"The AMWU will always argue for fair wage increases to benefit workers, and we make no apology for this. We will continue to do this during EBA negotiations at sites across the country."
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