EDITORIAL: What would a mandatory national bus driver award mean?

By: Chris Smith

Session two of the BCA New South Wales Conference involved the always topical issue of industrial relations. What’s on the

Session two of the BCA New South Wales Conference involved the always topical issue of industrial relations. What’s on the cards with a national award modernisation plan could cause a potentially major upheaval in the way operators across the country operate.

With the change of government the Workchoices legislation has now become defunct. What’s now in place is the Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward With Fairness) ACT 2008, which will eventually take us to Forward With Fairness.

The Transitional Act basically prevents employees making new AWA’s from the March 28, 2008.
It also allows Individual Transitional Employment Agreements (ITEA’s), only where previous Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) existed, based on a ‘no disadvantage’ test, until December 31, 2009.

Collective Agreements are also subject to the no disadvantage test.

The Act re-instates the ‘no disadvantage’ test, or ‘better off overall’ test.

The Act is an amendment to the Workplace Relations Act 1996, as all other legislation, including Workchoices, has been.

Forward With Fairness enshrines collective bargaining rights back into the IR legislation.

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) is to undertake the process of Award modernisation with 10 matters that may be dealt with.

Meaning eventually we will have one national Bus Driver Award replacing state awards.

There is already a Federal Award which has six grades of pay, 20 percent casual loading, a 40 hour week, shift minimums of 8 hours, annual leave five weeks for shift workers, loading 17.5 percent, shift allowances -- morning shift 12.5 percent, afternoon shift 15 percent and night shift 20 percent.

The Federal Award varies greatly from the state awards.

The trick will be getting consensus, at the moment each state award offers different pay rates, minimum shift hours, different holidays and leave loading, different overtime rates just to highlight a few of the issues which would have to be decided upon.

Are you in favour of a National Award for bus drivers? Already 88 percent of pole participants on the busnews.com.au website say they are. Please cast your vote on the poll so we can have a representative view on what the industry thinks.

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