PIAA and AMWU update Printing Award

The PIAA and AMWU have come to an agreement on the Graphic Arts, Printing and Publishing (GAPP) award, resulting in changes to some competency points but no material wage changes.

The agreement between the union and industry body has resulted in a new training package to replace old competencies in the Award, with certain competencies being removed, consolidated and added. The PIAA says after discussions with the union, wage classifications will not change and wage levels should remain consistent for the foreseeable future.

Andrew Macaulay, CEO of the 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.”

Paul Mitchell, industrial relations manager at the PIAA says “Competencies have been deleted and consolidated in the award and some have been added to align with developments in digital print and 3D print.

“The Industry Reference Committee (IRC), which Andrew Macaulay and Lorraine Cassin sit on reviewed the changes, it was agreed on unanimously and submitted.

“The new competencies come with competency points, the other older ones may now have less or more points. Around 15 or 16 have been deleted and 25 or so have been added in line with new technology, for example, to set up and produce 3D print.”

The Australian Industry Group (AI Group) placed submissions to the Fair Work Commission opposing the changes. The AI Group is concerned that changes could result in employees being reclassified at higher levels and becoming entitled to higher wages where there is no change in the value of work performed.

[Related: PIAA fears wage rise for small printers]

However Macaulay had no time for the AI Group’s submission, he says, “The Ai Group are not part of our industry or the IRC. What might benefit the metals industry or the building industry, may in fact be detrimental to the printing and packaging Industries.”

Mitchell says, “It is not affecting business or wage rate, just modernising the award and recognising employees in print using skills that are relevant and have come about in the 21st century. Wars fought on an ideological basis can remain in the 1970s and 1980s. We are working hard to take our industry forward.

 “There was a decision made around 2006 for the competencies within awards linked to the training package, and the competencies have points associated with them. In a dispute, employers can go back to the competencies, add up the points and calculate a certain wage level.

“It is not used too much in our industry. Typically employers will look at someone’s skills and match them to a wage level, sort of with a rule of thumb. Competencies are not usually looked at unless there is a dispute. “

Macaulay says, “Vocational education is a core focus of the PIAA. The AMWU supports PIAA in this initiative. We will have industrial disagreements from time to time, but our mutual focus is improving the quantity and quality of training for our Industry. This is ultimately what these changes to the award are about.”

Mitchell says, “The PIAA and the union want to take the award into the 21st century. It is the best relationship to move the award forward, we know the industry best.”

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