Prison workers win fair Agreement

Prison workers win fair Agreement

United Voice members working for G4S Mount Gambier Prison have worked hard to win a new Enterprise Agreement.

Early last year, members filled out surveys about what they wanted in their new Agreement.

By September 2017, members had put together a Log of claims.

They knew their main priorities were fair wage increases, and a process to deal with workload issues, and they were ready to bargain.

However, negotiations with G4S were initially slow-going and members were frustrated.

The parties couldn’t reach agreement on key issues, and during bargaining management proposed changes to rosters which would have had significant impacts on the members’ work/life balance.

So United Voice members got active.

They recruited their co-workers and greatly increased the union membership on site.

Three members stepped up as United Voice Delegates, forming a strong leadership structure on site.

When no progress was being made, United Voice members showed they were strong, united and willing to take Protected Industrial Action if that’s what it took.

Faced with a strong united union membership, negotiations with management changed.

Members started to get results.

By mid-2018, members were able to achieve all of their key claims.

This included an annual increase of 3% to all wages and entitlements, public holiday rates for part-public holidays on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, a new Consultation clause to protect employees from unreasonable workloads, and a four hour minimum engagement, among many other improvements.

In addition, members maintained their original roster system without the unwanted changes proposed by management.

In July, members returned an 88% YES vote to the proposed Agreement.

United Voice Delegate Tom Jellesma said,

“Getting to this point has taken all the members working together. Negotiations were long, and there were many complicated clauses to work through. We were also dealing with a change in contract and increased workloads, which meant frustration for members.

“One particular win we had was on penalty rates: if you work more than your allotted public holidays, then you are paid public holiday rates for the extra dates you work.

“It took a lot of hard work and now we’re happy with the outcome.

“But we won’t be resting on our laurels – we plan to build our membership to be stronger going into the next negotiations, and win better wages and conditions.”

At the time of print, the proposed Agreement had been submitted to the Fair Work Commission for Approval.