The ALAEA recently attended an Engineering Committee consultation meeting held at the Bristow head office in Perth on 23rd June 2016. A number of issues were discussed but there was little in the way of agreed outcomes emerging from the meeting. I expect the Company will, at some stage, distribute minutes from the meeting but below are some key points that were raised.
In relation to the notice period in redundancy situations, the ALAEA pointed out relevant terms from the Fair Work Act and questioned how the Company was applying the notice period in relation to the non-accrual of annual leave in the final 28 days from the date of redundancy notification. The Company reviewed the matter and subsequently confirmed some amendments were applicable to leave accruals for certain employees who have recently left the Company.
The ALAEA also raised concern as to how the Company calculates long service entitlements. The Company are still reviewing this matter but we remain concerned, in particular, about the situation of a touring engineer who has qualified for LSL and then leaves the Company. We believe such an engineer may potentially be short changed in their final accrued LSL entitlements. The ALAEA will continue to pursue this matter.
Another contentious issue has been the way the Company has changed their approach to the application of mileage claims for touring engineers allocated to a “home-based” touring roster in either Perth or Melbourne. Despite no change in the relevant wording from the previous to the current Engineering Enterprise Agreement (EEA), the Company are now applying a cost-cutting approach; stating that transport assistance will only apply on the days on to and off a home based tour and there will be no access to mileage claims for the other days on tour. They have informed us that company-provided accommodation for home based tour situations would only be considered for engineers living outside a “reasonable commutable distance” which they have suggested would be 100kms. In response to the ALAEA’s suggestion of a potential cap on the number of home based tours where there is not mutual agreement the Company has proposed that, in such circumstances, home-based tours could be restricted to two tours per calendar year. This item is still a live issue and the ALAEA has invoked the Dispute Resolution Procedure in the EEA and further consultation is to occur with the Regional Director APR.
Bristow have informed the unions and EC reps that the Company intends to remove the licence payment for the AS332 aircraft from all engineers who have had the opportunity to gain an alternative licence in the last two years. We continue to seek further information about the Company’s intention and clarify timelines and further consultation between the parties is required on how the relevant terms from the EEA at clause 2.5 are correctly interpreted and applied.
One issue not listed on the agenda for discussion was the Company’s recent actions regarding the Performance Development Review process. It is disappointing, so soon after a consultative EC meeting where this could have been discussed, that the Company have seen fit to simply procced to implementing the PDR process. With two rounds of recent redundancy departures and lots of uncertainty about future engineering numbers, it seems this action is just going to add to current stress levels. We believe the implementation should be deferred and be the subject of genuine consultation.
Given the number of contentious issues arising, unless the Company are prepared to engage constructively with the unions and EC to reach acceptable outcomes, it is likely that the parties will end up at the Fair Work Commission at some point in order to get a determination on the operation and application of several provisions in the EEA.
National Industrial Officer