Labour Price Index shortfall impedes trade negotiations

By: Amie Hickland

A shortfall in major indexes could be remedied by productivity savings in trade negotiations

Australian trade unions are being encouraged to negotiate ways for employees to save in productivity costs to operators in the latest rounds of enterprise agreement bargaining.

The Labour Price Index in Australia for the year ending June 2014 is 2.6 per cent, according to statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is 3 per cent for the same period which means a .4 per cent difference to be made up by operators as negotiations continue.

Australian Public Transport Industrial Association (APTIA) National Industrial Relations Manager Ian Macdonald says the .4 per cent shortfall in government-funded contracts can be compensated by savings in productivity costs.

"Operators have got to try to negotiate productivity savings with their employees," he says.

One example of where savings can be made is when a new employee – who is generally on some type of training program – is being paid the same as a driver with ten years’ experience.

"There’s very little justification as to why they should get the same rate as a driver who has driven for a number of years."

MacDonald says trade unions must be willing to negotiate productivity savings with operators if they want to receive the higher percentage in wage rises.

"My view is that there are productivity savings in the various enterprise agreements which are being negotiated," he says.

"If the trade unions want the higher percentage, they’ve got to be prepared to negotiate with operators on productivity savings."

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