10 July 2018
Cranes and Transport members have been involved in collective bargaining negotiations now for close to two years. We have met with Rio Tinto on multiple occasions both in Perth and in the Pilbara. The discussion at the table has centred around the disagreement in application of nightshift allowances and disruptions which were the primary catalyst for the commencing of negotiations. During this time, we have now been to the Fair Work Commission seeking assistance to progress negotiations. The second and most recent hearing was on Friday the 22nd of June 2018.
Over the past three months the Union has been working with a small group of members to prepare and submit a case for a potential breach of contractual benefits through the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission (WAIRC). This was done in advance of the recent FWC hearing after careful consideration by the Union’s legal department. At the hearing Deputy President Bull led the discussion on disruptions, nightshift allowances and the forthcoming WAIRC submission, deeming that: • Nightshift allowances being paid to FIFO workers and not to residential workers was ‘unexplainable’; • Disruptions allowances being paid to residential for the full term of a disruption and to FIFO workers for 2 nights was ‘understandable’; At the conclusion of the hearing Bull suggested that a proposal be put forth by the Union to Rio for nightshifts and pause bargaining along with the proposed WAIRC case.
The Union taking advice from our legal team and bargaining advocates has decided to move forward on the WAIRC claim of breach of contractual benefits on behalf of a small group of members who will be represented by the Union. At present Rio Tinto has engaged an external law firm to act on their behalf with regards to the claim.
It is important as always to ensure we remain supportive of one another during this next phase of the process, particularly those members who have submitted claims with the support of the Union to the WAIRC. Discussions with non-members on the importance of increasing our numbers are also vital, like any time through this process our strength lies in numbers. If you have any questions or comments or would like more information, please speak to an Organiser
28 August 2017
- The bargaining process with Rio has been ongoing now for 14 months
- Representing you is a team made up of State Secretaries, Union Lawyers, Employee Representatives and your Union Organisers.
- We knew Rio was going to be a tough employer to negotiate with, and they have been with little shift in their position.
- Our most recent meeting with them was on the 10th of August in Paraburdoo.
What are we asking Rio for?
- For full details on our proposed Agreement and Rio’s response, click here: Proposed Agreement / Rio's Response
- Progress on getting commitments on improving your workplace rights and conditions has been slow, because Rio want to be able to control your conditions “on the fly”.
- Attempts to reach an agreed position on Night Shift and Disruption allowances have also been frustrating with Rio insisting that previous arrangements were “double dipping”.
- A full review of the bargaining process to date and steps moving forward will occur in early September.
How can you help the campaign?
Keep updated, and give us feedback. These negotiations are to benefit you and improve your workplace. So give us a bell if you have any feedback or questions.
We can’t do without you! The more people who sign up to WMWA the more influence we have to get good outcomes in these negotiations.
Do you have mate that’s not a member? Maybe it’s time they signed up. It’s easy to join here: http://www.wmwa.org.au/join or give your local organiser a call Jeff – 0417667282 Andy - 0417006100
If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to get in touch with an Organiser, feedback is always welcome and encouraged.
10 July 2017
As part of the ongoing negotiations, Tuesday the 20th of June, 2017 your bargaining team met with Rio Tinto in Paraburdoo. Progress is being made, albeit slowly. Our last meeting, the first since our appearance in the Fair Work Commission focused on our productivity benefit suggestions that we put to Rio in May 2017. Rio said they feel these suggestions were ‘off the mark’, as they were looking for changes to ‘work practices’. Rio claimed that our suggested improvements are what the company are already considering in their own internal review process. Feedback from the membership on whether this is or has occurred would be very helpful.
Rio are claiming much of our draft cannot be agreed to, Rio considers large parts of our draft to be inflexible and unsuitable to meet the needs of the business. We are determined to maintain a clear and reasonable focus on clauses that are to be negotiated. Disappointingly, Rio have declared that they were willing only to lock into an agreement, leave standards which provide the barest minimum entitlements for payments and accrual of such leave, rather than what is provided for in current policy.
Rio continue to assert that they are unable and unwilling to lock conditions into an agreement as this ‘inflexibility’ may cause the business to become unprofitable and in an extreme case force the closure of Rio operations in the Pilbara.
Consistently, Rio pushes their position that significant parts of your employment conditions are to be maintained in company policy, policy that can be changed by the company, when the company choose to make such changes. Your bargaining representatives are mindful of the economic environment that Rio are operating in. Rio will need to be honest and transparent when making operational detail available, enabling our members to make informed judgements on such matters. In attempting to ensure operations remain viable and providing decent stable conditions of employment for members, we are exploring options that might allow for a review mechanism should Iron Ore prices head toward bona fide loss making rates and remain so for an agreed time. Rio acknowledged the offer and said they would provide a response to this at our next meeting.
C&T Management did mention through the discussion that the use of contractors is being looked at and a business case is being put forward to head office to justify getting permanent positions, however Rio can’t guarantee anything at this stage. Your bargaining team is all too aware that the need for operational labour flexibility, this must not translate into wholesale uncertainty and casualisation of the existing or future workforce.
We have agreed to meet again in approximately 6 weeks. Over the next few weeks we will discuss progress made with our members, your industrial advocates, and state secretaries of the Alliance and determine what strategy we all take going forward. The Fair Work Act provides workers a great number of options when seeking to make an agreement, our preference of course, is to be able to achieve and acceptable outcome for all involved, without needing to seek the assistance of the Fair Work Commission. As always stay united for each other and help us secure a fair and decent contract.
If you would like more information or to discuss bargaining call Andrew on 0417 006 200 or Jeff on 0417 667 282.
5 June 2017
CRANE OPS BARGAINING UPDATE
Rio have now responded to our draft EA with a document of their own.
In their response the company has taken objection to no less than 13 clauses and the entire allowances schedule as proposed by the Union in late January.
In their response, management have listed concerns around things such as – rosters, leave, salaries, redundancy, consultation and dispute resolution to name but a few.
Further going on to list restrictions on “normal practices", “likely to increase costs" and “constraints” also known as locking in your wages and conditions as points they can not agree to.
Both parties will meet again in Paraburdoo on the 20th of June where discussions will take place to find out just what Rio is willing to accept as currently it would seem not a lot.
Remember this is not and will not be a quick process, we are here for the long haul and by sticking together we will get there together.
If you would like more info about the current position of bargaining please contact Jeff or Andrew.
18 April 2017
CRANE OPS BARGAINING UPDATE
On the 5th of April, your Union Representatives met with Rio Tinto at the Fair Work Commission in Perth.
Following a lack of real progress in bargaining with Rio, the WMWA made an application seeking the Fair Work Commission’s assistance.
There was a FWC Conference between the parties on Wednesday 5th April. The FWC's main focus was to facilitate discussions between the two parties.
The WMWA used this opportunity to encourage Rio to recognise the workforces’ wishes (for an enterprise agreement) to take part in genuinely bargaining.
Out of this meeting the following points were agreed to -
- Both parties are to submit in writing their productivity improvement suggestions by no later than the 12th of May, RTIO is to also submit it’s response to the draft EA
- A meeting to discuss the above points to be scheduled for late May
What can you do? Keep in contact with your Union reps if you have questions or comments. Staying informed is important and allows us to get information out as required.
Encourage your workmates who aren’t members to join through conversation, there is no truer saying than strength in numbers.
An update relating to productivity improvement suggestions will be sent out to all members shortly.
16 March 2017
CRANE OPS BARGAINING UPDATE
On Monday the 13th of March your bargaining representatives met with Rio Tinto in Perth. Our expectation of this meeting was to hear a detailed position on the Draft Proposal that was presented to them at the last meeting in late January some 6 weeks earlier.
To say Rio’s response was disappointing would be an understatement. No response to detail was given, no specifics provided and in fact the only response was a one-sentence line on a piece of paper, this after 6 weeks!
In short, Rio stated that they felt the proposal does not offer anything in terms of ‘Productivity Benefits’, they presented a clause from the Fair Work Act, below:
171 Objects of this Part
The objects of this Part are:
(a) to provide a simple, flexible and fair framework that enables collective bargaining in good faith, particularly at the enterprise level, for enterprise agreements that deliver productivity benefits; and
Rio focussed on the sole words, ‘productivity benefits’ and stated that the agreement broadly provided only restrictions and inflexibility, they stated they did not want to be in a position to terminate an agreement because it didn’t provide flexibility for them to make changes to things such as rosters and allowances (sound familiar)?
Your bargaining reps balanced the conversation saying that collective bargaining is about employees having a say on their conditions of employment and having security around those conditions.
Head of C&T operations Mick, said that they were planning to do a review into ‘productivity’ and ‘improvement’ in April. They would be looking at the contractor numbers and full time employees across the business in the east and west. Mick felt that this review is part of the EBA process.
Gary Wood, WA Secretary of the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division made the point that bargaining was about consistency across the business. Alex Bukarica the National Legal Director of the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division representing the Alliance added that, “Rio are emphasising one thing for employers, it is not just about productivity it is about giving something back to the employees”.
Through the discussions, Gerry Cunniffe C&T worker’s representative provided real life examples as to how there were productivity benefits gained from the application of the disruption allowance. He explained that he was asked to do a VAS, knowing this is voluntary he declined, instead he asked to do it as a disruption, after discussions with his superintendent it was agreed that the three extra days where classed as disruptions and he agreed to do the extra shifts. If he didn’t do the shift Rio would have had to get contractors which would have cost the company anywhere between $200k and $300k. The disruption may have been about $2000, a saving was made of at least around $298k, the costings of our agreement are at the most roughly $160k per year. This is clearly a productivity benefit. The job was cancelled a couple of days prior to starting due to operational reasons.
Gerry went on to read the ‘Commute’ allowance from the Allowances policy, he stated that it wasn’t clear that ‘Commute’ was for working night shift. It was clearly for working as a FIFO, who commute back and forth to the mine site and their home, taking them away from their home and family life, their personal life. Rio argued that ‘Commute’ allowance covered FIFO staff to work night shift. At this point in the meeting there was a break called as our reps were feeling frustrated at the table.
After a much-needed breather and strategic caucus the WMWA reps resolved to end the meeting with Rio and move forward by exercising the FWA Collective Bargaining legislation to seek assistance from the Fair Work Commission under section 240 of the FWA
(ii) dealing with disputes where the bargaining representatives request assistance;
That is where we are with collective bargaining, we have decided the best way to represent you is to exercise some industrial strength to take Rio to the Commission.
The process of bargaining is a long one and it’s early days yet. We will be calling members individually and sending emails to all members to remind members and workers that we must dig our heels in to work towards securing our working conditions and paving a way for future collective agreements.
Want to know more?
1 February 2017
CRANE OPS BARGAINING UPDATE
Your bargaining team and Rio management met again on the 31st of January at the Rio Tinto building in Perth’s CBD. It was a cold rainy day in Perth, which aligned with the overall meeting tone.
Kicking off we met the new Cranes manager Mick Green. We discussed the realignment of Cranes and Transport to the Core Services group and asked Mick what this meant for C&T. He confirmed that there would not be any structural or operational change to C&T at this time. Further he said his focus would be on Safety, technology enabling remote control of Cranes, improved crib rooms and contracts to maintain and improve C&T facilities. He also confirmed that Cranes on the coast will stay with the Port Operations leaving them out of the scope of any potential collective agreement.
We then had some robust discussions around the actual cost savings that the centralisation process has achieved to the business over the past 18 months. Whilst Rio would not confirm the figure was in excess of 10 million dollars they would not deny it. We reminded management that this has seen operators spending more time away from their homes and normal place of work. We highlighted the impact this new model has had on operators and their families.
We moved to discuss the revenue and profits the business had been and is currently making. We noted the record profit for the December quarter of 2016 with an average Iron ore price in 2016 of $55 per tonne. We reminded Rio that their own public statements made it clear that any price above $30 a tonne was highly profitable. They responded saying that the Pilbara operations was one part of the overall businesses Rio is involved with.
We then discussed our proposal for a Skills, Qualification and Experienced based salary structure. We discussed the benefits of the proposed structure in detail with management. Rio views on the proposed salary structure were that flexibility would be jeopardised which is a key means to respond to the market now and in the future. Our team outlined clauses in our proposal that can be used to address the business needs to make variations to an agreement.
After a short break we provided Rio with our proposal for a collective agreement, members can view a copy of the proposed agreement here.
We again asked Rio to clarify if they were supportive of including the current disruptions arrangements into a collective agreement that would protect the current arrangements. Rio confirmed it was still not supportive of the idea.
We also asked Rio to confirm if they were supportive of including the current payment arrangements for nights for residential operators into a collective agreement that would protect the current arrangements. Rio was not supportive of the idea.
We asked Rio to clarify if they were supportive of including an additional payment of $73 for FIFO operators who are day shift workers and are required to work nights. Again Rio was still not supportive of the idea.
We raised a proposal to have a Phone allowance for C&T staff as they use their own phones when in Cranes to communicate with other Crane Operators. Management responded saying phones will be provided to staff to use when they are out on a Crane.
Where are things up to?
The Union’s proposal is to simply sought to protect the current conditions and arrangements that employees already have in place within policy. Our proposals are cost neutral or very close to being cost neutral.
These are the very arrangements that have allowed Rio to save millions of dollars over the past year through the better use of its Cranes and operators throughout its Pilbara mines. The centralisation of Cranes has increased the number of nights worked by operators as well as the number of days away from their normal place of work.
Given the current market and future forecasts members do not understand why the business would intentionally avoid committing to the current working arrangements.
Members understand that there is a claim for a small additional payment for FIFO employees who are employed as day workers when they are required to work nights. We believe that this is a fair compromise for employees who have clear contractual arrangement as day shift workers.
We don’t believe that this approach from management is in line with business’s stated core values of integrity, accountability, teamwork and respect. It is disappointing at the very time the business should be trying to improve the teams moral.
The ‘Way We Work’ policy, is meant to be Rio’s overarching policy platform that guides leaders in making decisions. “We respect that people have the right to choose whether to belong to a Union and seek to bargain collectively” is a statement in Rio’s policy. We are not sure how Rio’s current bargaining position to not include current pay and conditions in any agreement lines up with their publicly stated position around collective bargaining.
What is the Union doing?
We will continue to work with members and the business to achieve a fair outcome for both parties. We will continue to negotiate with the business in good faith and enforce that if need be and to ensure that any costs associated with any agreement are kept to an absolute minimum.
We have proposed a draft collective agreement for Rio to consider. This is only a first draft for discussions and is not endorsed or agreed to by the Union. It’s important to remember we are a long way from having a final draft agreement and before we agree on supporting any final agreement we will put that agreement to a vote of members.
We will continue to remind the business about the importance of maintaining a good employee/employer relationship based on mutual trust, respect and gains.
Your organisers will continue to have discussions with Crane Operators at all sites to make sure that members understand what is going on and what options we have.
What can I do?
We strongly encourage all employees to stand up and ask your manager why Rio is not willing to include the current policy arrangements into a collective agreement. You can do this directly or by email.
The only way we will get a fair agreement is if Crane operators stick together and insist on getting a fair deal. We encourage members to speak to your workmates and remind them of the importance of getting on board and sticking together.
We will discuss the current proposed draft agreement with members before we present it to Rio at our next meeting in about 5 weeks in Paraburdoo.
After that meeting we will report back to members.
Water the grass out the front of the gates of Rio’s Pilbara mine sites and prepare your boats as your organisers get around to sites, talk to them about how we can progress to a fair deal for C&T members.
Want to know more?
For more information on bargaining contact your local organisers Jeff – [email protected] or
Andrew – [email protected]
15 November 2016
CRANE OPS BARGAINING UPDATE
Your bargaining team and Rio management met again in Perth on 26 October.
At this meeting we proposed a Skills, Qualification and Experienced based salary structure. We discussed the benefits of the proposed structure in detail with management. Rio agreed to consider this proposal and get back us at the next meeting on 6 December.
During the meeting we asked Rio to clarify if they were supportive of including the current disruptions arrangements into a collective agreement that would protect the current arrangements. Rio was not supportive of the idea.
Also at this meeting we asked Rio to clarify if they were supportive of including the current payment arrangements for nights for residential operators into a collective agreement that would protect the current arrangements. Rio was not supportive of the idea.
We also asked Rio to clarify if they were supportive of including an additional payment of $73 for FIFO operators who are day shift workers and are required to work nights. Again Rio was not supportive of the idea.
For details on these proposals please see the previous updates.
Where are things up to?
We asked Rio to confirm in writing that they would not be willing to include our 2 proposed clauses. Rio have responded outlining that, “the business is in a state of transition and will be for some time and is focusing on ways to sustainably reduce costs and make productivity improvements. As such fundamental principles in this process from the Company’s perspective are that we do not lock in elevated costs or have cost increases, we don’t in any way limit productivity and any agreement reached is appropriate at any stage of the cycle and is sustainable in any context.
Crane operators base remuneration takes into account the agreed contractual requirement that they will be required to change work location and work at different operation sites. The crane operators also receive payment of a Role Allowance. The payments currently paid to crane operators are in excess of contractual obligations and policy benefits. They are in some respects “double dipping” on payments already paid and in the above context the Company does not consider that it is appropriate to lock such arrangements into an agreement”
The Unions proposals have simply sought to protect the current conditions and arrangements that employees already have in place now. Our proposals are cost neutral or very close to being cost neutral. These are the very arrangements that have allowed Rio to save millions of dollars over the past year through the better use of its Cranes and operators throughout its Pilbara mines.
We really don’t understand why the business would intentionally avoid committing to the current working arrangements. We do understand there is claim for a small additional payment for FIFO employees who are employed as day workers when they are required to work nights. We believe that this is a fair compromise for employees who have clear contractual arrangement as day shift workers.
We don’t believe that this approach from management is in line with business’s stated core values of integrity, accountability, teamwork and respect. This is disappointing at the very time that the business is under increasing public scrutiny about its core values and behaviour.
The way we work policy, is meant to be Rio’s overarching policy platform that guides leaders in making decisions. “We respect that people have the right to choose whether to belong to a Union and seek to bargain collectively” is a statement in Rio’s the way we work policy. We are not sure how Rio’s current bargaining position to not include current pay and conditions in any agreement lines up with their publicly stated position around collective bargaining.
What is the Union doing?
We will continue to work with members and the business to achieve a fair outcome for both parities. We will continue to negotiate with the business in good faith and to ensure that any costs associated with any agreement are keep to an absolute minimum.
We will continue to remind the business about the importance of maintaining a good employee /employer relationship based on mutual trust, respect and gains.
Your organisers will continue to have discussions with Crane Operators at all sites to makes sure that members understand what is going on.
We have been working on and are close to having a first draft collective agreement ready for members to consider. This is only a first draft for discussions and is not endorsed or agreed to by the Union. Its important to remember we are long way from having a final draft agreement and before we agree on supporting any final agreement we will put that agreement to a vote of members.
If you want more information about the draft agreement contact your local organiser directly.
What can I do?
We strongly encourage all employees to ask your manager why Rio is not willing to include the current policy arrangements into a collective agreement. You can do this directly or by email.
The only way we will get fair agreement is if Crane operator’s stick together and insist on getting a fair deal. We encourage members to speak to your workmates and remind them of the importance of getting on board and sticking together.
We will discuss the current proposed draft agreement with members before we present it to Rio at our next meeting on Tuesday 6 December in Paraburdoo.
After this meeting we report back to members again.
Want to know more?
For more information on bargaining contact your local organisers call or email
Shane - [email protected] Andrew - andrew.smith.wmwa.org.au
30 September 2016
Last Friday we met with Rio Tinto management in Perth for the 4th Cranes bargaining negotiations meeting. We discussed a number of matters and have made a number of proposals to Rio in line with the log of claims. Please see below a summary of the discussions and proposals, these are just proposals at this stage.
29 August 2016
Last Wednesday, Gary Wood (CFMEU mining WA Secretary). Gerry Cunniffe (Crane Operator bargaining rep), Shane Roulstone and Andrew Smith (WMWA Organisers) met in Paraburdoo with Rio Tinto management and legal advisors for negotiation meeting number 3.
8 August 2016
Last Monday Gary Wood (CFMEU mining WA Secretary). Alister Kentish (CFMEU National Legal officer), Shane Roulstone (WMWA Organiser) and Gerry Cunniffe (Crane Operator bargaining rep) met in Perth with Rio Tinto management and legal advisors for bargaining.
15 July 2016
On Monday the 11th of July Mike Zoetbrood (AWU WA Secretary) Gary Wood (CFMEU mining WA Secretary). Alistair Kentish (CFMEU National Legal officer) and Shane Roulstone (WMWA Organiser) met in Perth with Rio Tinto management and legal advisors.
4 July 2016
Rio Tinto management and the WMWA will meet on 11 July to commence formal negotiations for a Crane Operators collective agreement. This first meeting will mainly deal with the administrative and logistics involved in the bargaining. Negotiation meetings will then be scheduled on a regular basis going forward.