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Opinion Request

13/05/2012

Dear Members

A reminder to those who can make it, the third Association meeting is being held this Saturday at St George Leagues club in the Premiers Lounge at 1.30pm. This is to be a very important meeting because we need to decide our next step in having our issues attended to in a timely fashion. The problems, according to last night’s information from members, are still escalating and as yet not one of our initial issues has been satisfactorily addressed.

I realize this is quite far for many members to attend so I have compiled a list of choices which I would value your input on and either agreeing of disagreeing to some proposals, plus any other suggestions or solution ideas you may have.

By now some of you have received your May Pays and some may have not received what you were expecting. According to some sources, this is because of the School Strike on Friday the 18th May. It appears this day’s absences are not seen by the department as a “Temporary Absence”. According to the contract we are not to be paid for Industrial Action, which has been understood and accepted under past contracts. On further thought though, under this contract, there is some further clarification needed. With this strike, was it a case of a school being closed?

  •  If the School is not closed then it is a school day under the guidelines.
  • If required, we are to transport students at the normal AM and PM times.
  • If students are kept home for the day (or half day) then that is the choice of the parent because (by Law) limited supervision is available.
  • The student may be absent from school for a reason completely unrelated to industrial action, therefore, without ASTU knowing the reason, it would be a Temporary Absence.
  • If it is a Temporary Absence then we should be paid for this day?

I would like to hear your views on this please.

1) Do you think it should be classed (and paid accordingly) under the Temporary Absence clause?

2) Do you think we should not be paid because it falls under the Non Payment for Industrial Action clause?

Another bit of information told to me is that Operators are to be paid a “half rate” if students were taken home in the PM only after being taken to school by their parents when the Industrial Action ended. At this point, I am not sure if “half rate” means half the usual kilometres stopping at the minimum of 30klms or, as was told to me, half rate means under 30klms if you are on less than 60klms for the full run.

  • Where is it mentioned that a FULL run can be considered a “half” run at any time?
  • If half a run is performed it is a FULL run with a Temporary Absence.
  • To pay a “half” run logically implies that transport is required.
  • If transport is required then it must be a bona-fide school day.
  • If it is a bona-fide school day then absences should be treated as “Temporary”
  • If absences are “Temporary” then payment in full is expected.

What are your thoughts on the “half rate” payment?

1) Do you think a half rate of pay is applicable for a one way trip?

2) Do you think a one way trip still qualifies it as being a Full Run?

The subject of any “half rate” payments needs to be hastily addressed for a number of reasons. We cannot let the Department begin implementing any more changes to the contract that solely benefits the Department. Where will this particular “half rate” lead? What other situations will they ‘choose’ to decide that it will apply to? While a half rate is fine for a third leg of any run, it should not be used at the discretion of the Department for a money saving advantage.

From past experience, we all know how often rules and clauses get continually re interpreted and we were obliged to simply accept them. This must not happen again, which is why I would like to suggest that the Association recommends to the head of the DEC that with the existing contract, each issue must be clarified, understood, accepted and agreed upon by Contractors in absolute minute detail so as to have no misunderstanding or re interpretation made in future years under current or new management.

Again, I would appreciate your thoughts.

1) Do you think it beneficial to have the contract showing in absolute detail exactly what each clause is intending (in legal and laymen’s language)?

2) Do you think it is best left as it is and accept only the explanations given with each issue addressed?

I am wanting to begin the email voting that we allowed for in the constitution with this next meeting by asking those of you who can’t attend to vote on matters which will be discussed. These votes will then be included on the day.

Since nothing yet has come from our meeting with Garry Browne and even more confusion with a backward step from his emails, we will be proposing some alternatives to have these matters attended to urgently. It is now June and we are still waiting on answers and corrections from February. To be fair, I realize Garry has probably been tied up at Wollongong implementing the new mapping system and this month, the new pay rates, but since our original meeting with him was 5 weeks ago I am disappointed that not one thing can be ticked off our list. The proposals are:

1) Persevere for a while longer via emails with Garry Browne until things are dealt with?

2) Request another meeting with him and include David Malcolm (Tender) and Angelo Guarmaccia (Operations) so as to have people who know how clauses and operations were meant to be perceived. Then allow an appropriate time for their decisions?

3) Send a letter to the Head of the DEC Michelle Bruniges or The Minister Mr Adrian Picolli on behalf of Association Members and request that they nominate a person who has more time to deal with these issues?

4) Have a “Local MP day” for impact, having representatives from various areas presenting on the same day, with the same complaints. (This could be arranged for the school holidays)

Please nominate your preference or submit another proposal for consideration.

While it is a big problem in reaching the majority of operators to let them know of this association, there are also others who do know but are still fearful of joining. I am hoping that members can perhaps convince them that their personal information will not reach the Department and that Solidarity is very important to our cause. Most are grateful to be verbally updated with any advances made and will ultimately reap any benefits achieved. Parting with just a small outlay of only $25, their support would be invaluable in escalating this association to the warranted and professional level it should be. Personally, it would also make me feel that time spent is even more worthwhile. In the words of one member:

“The Department clearly thinks it can dictate contract interpretations, however it cannot. It will however succeed in dictating contractor terms and interpretations whilst contractors are ‘divided’. The only effective way to deal with the Department is if all (or most) contractors join the association and speak with one voice. Every industry is entitled to an ‘Industry Association’ which lobbies and negotiates with Government.”

Looking forward to hearing from you all and hopefully, for those that can make it on Saturday, I can put a face to those voices from our phone calls.

All the Best

Rhonda

PS. The Association Member Forum is now available on the website www.assistedtravel.info for us to converse in private. For those not registered on the website yet just think of a name you would like to use and click “register”. Maddog can help if you have any problems. You will only see the member threads once you register. No other website users can see the topics of our conversations.

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