The Transport Administration Amendment (RMS Dissolution) Bill 2019 passed the Legislative Council on Wednesday night, with the ALP, Greens and cross bench members supporting the amendments that were put forward by the Government in the Legislative Assembly on 15 November.
Whilst not as strong as those put forward by the Legislative Council in October, they still provide significant and strong protections to the award based workforce.
The acceptance of the Dissolution Bill closes the lid on a rather disruptive eight months of uncertainty for RMS and TfNSW staff punctuated by false starts, intensive lobbying, negotiations, threats, counter-threats and finally acceptance.
What are the Legislated Amendments?
No forced redundancies for RMS staff
Protects existing RMS Award covered staff from forced redundancies for four years.
No privatisation of RMS work
For the four years following the merger, no work currently performed in-house by RMS employees can be privatised. Furthermore, outsourced RMS road maintenance contracts cannot be extended in scope.
No reduction in staff in regional areas
The staff headcount for TfNSW must not be reduced for four years in regional areas. This includes the Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Newcastle and Central Coast.
RMS awards not to be merged
For the next four years, all current RMS awards will be retained, unless all unions who are party to the award consent to the award being combined with another. This will protect staff from having their conditions watered down as a result of merging Awards with TfNSW. The terms of the MOU apply in respect of staff voluntarily changing the Award they are covered by, or following consultation with staff and unions where there are common roles between TfNSW and RMS.
Disputes can be taken to the IRC
RMS award covered employees who have been materially disadvantaged as a result of the merger are able to have the dispute conciliated or arbitrated by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission. Executive and senior service employees are able to apply to the Transport Secretary to review the matter. Employees are able to pursue these avenues for a period of 4 years.
PSA Recognises the Efforts made by Unions NSW
The PSA would like to extend acknowledgment of the assistance provided by Unions NSW throughout this contracted process singling out both the Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey and his Legal/Industrial Officer Sascha Peldova-McClelland.
This is yet another example of the power of the combined unions working together to maximise the employee protections during this period of great reform in TfNSW.
Where to Now?
TfNSW are continuing with reform processes aligning both TfNSW and RMS workforces as part of ‘Evolving Transport’. It is difficult to understand right now what changes in the negotiation strategies of TfNSW will emanate from the legislated amendments.