CBA want to “fix” the contract mess that they created with IAs by locking in a new way to “package” people’s pay without the right protections in place to avoid another IA mess.
The effect of CBA’s contracting mess (underpayments, confusion etc) is well known to members, but the cause is less well known. CBA’s decade long insistence that staff sign IA’s or “contracts” to minimize access to collectively won conditions on the EA has sown confusion among staff about what the EA is, and how (if at all) it related to their employment. As well as serving an idealogical purpose, CBA’s use of IAs created complexities for their obligations to ensure that all of those people remained better off than if they were on the EA and was likely unlawful. CBA ignored their obligations in under the EA to check that all IA people were still better off once a year until the union brought some of the now $54million in underpayments to their attention. Much of that 54 was caused by not carrying out their legal obligation to check that IA people were still better off each year.
Over the first few weeks of negotiations the union sought information from the bank about this issue. Were they already working on a plan to address these potentially unlawful contracts? They should be, could they share it with us?
After being told that this was not something to discuss in bargaining, and that there was nothing an EA could do to address this problem anyway, the union put a claim to the bank to address the issue through the EA. Our claim outlines information we need from the bank about the IAs, and our position: which is that the bank ought to give all of these people a new, fair offer to get off their unlawful IA and have access to clear, enforceable provisions under the EA.
After taking some time to consider our view, and initially telling us that it was absurd, CBA have come back with a counter offer that would see the lowest paid 6000 IAs receive an offer within a year. This is a huge step forward, and a good start – but the union needs to be satisfied about the detail of the offers, the wording of the communications, and obviously we think it should extend to all those on dodgy contracts. On this topic, there’s more to do, but we’re moving in the right direction!