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Time for Virgin to get serious

12 July 2013 By ASU


Your ASU National Negotiating Team (NNT) met with management on 8th July 2013 for our second meeting since staff resoundingly rejected the company's proposal in May 2013.

What did the company say?

The company shared with us in general terms the results of their staff surveys about the issues you believe are important.

The company now seems to acknowledge that staff want a better pay rise and a classification structure that recognises skills and contributions of staff (as we have all been saying for months). They also seem to understand that rostering and the organisation of work is important (though you have to wonder given the recent proposal in the Contact Centre, if they really understand).

Job security, contractor rates and how staff move from part time to full time also figured in their results. No surprises as these are the issues we have been talking about for months.

Worryingly though the company reps seem to be also saying that people voted "NO" to their proposal because they really didn't understand the proposed agreement. Your NNT reps set them straight – the trouble for the company is that staff understand their proposal and were just not prepared to support it.

We know this – you know this and no amount of talking about the old proposal is going to change a bad agreement into a good one – we need real change from the company on a number of issues.

The management did say they are reviewing all our claims again and hope to come back with reviewed responses at our next meeting.

What did we say?

We told the company we want:

  • Better pay rise.
  • Recognition of the contribution of long term staff.
  • Recognition of our skills and industry standards.
  • Inclusion of Trainers and Team leaders in the agreement.
  • Part-time provisions with a trigger for conversion to full-time.
  • Better higher duties provisions.
  • Contractor rates.
  • Job security in particular priority of work to Virgin staff.
  • Better allowances.
  • Improved rostering.
  • Recognition of the increased work complexity as a result of SABRE.
  • Better and improved consultation process.

We also told the company any pay rise MUST be back dated to when the last agreement expired (i.e. March 2013) as in our view the company should NEVER have put the agreement out for vote when we had told them it was not supported.

Penalizing staff by threatening no back pay is a ridiculous response when the company knew what people thought.

Award rates have now increased

The Airline Operations Ground Staff Award rates have increased since 1 July 2013 which means the gap between the Award rates and Virgin rates have narrowed significantly.

Below is a comparison table we have prepared that indicates the current Guest Services and Contact Centre rates against the relevant Award rates, as you will see we say the current Virgin rates have fallen below the relevant award rate in a number of classifications.

Virgin disputes this by saying we are using the wrong classification levels from the Award in some instances but then they would say that wouldn't they!

[To view table, download the full bulletin below]

Annual leave loading update

Management gave us an update on their review of the way annual leave loading has been paid to staff work which we raised back in Dec 2012/Jan 2013. (See ASU bulletin #8).

The company says they are still reviewing the leave loading payments made, going back 6 years from when we raised this issue and they are also fixing their payroll system to ensure it reflects the EBA agreement provisions i.e. that shift workers get annual leave loading which is a minimum of 17 ½ or average shift penalties whichever is greater.

The company is only checking back 6 years as this is their legal obligation – as we have said before these errors may well have been going on since the company started and morally we think the company should recompensing staff for all underpayments, but legally they do not have any obligation to.

The company says that despite what may have been said in some airport meetings by some management the issue of shift workers' annual leave loading payments cuts across all groups – i.e. Contact Centres and Guest Services.

We have been promised a briefing on the annual leave loading issue at our next meeting – we hope this is the case but do note the company has said this before!

Guest Services work insourced

In some good news, management has decided to insource the Guest Services functions for Virgin Australia International flights at Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane Airports.

We have asked the company questions about what opportunities will be created for existing Virgin Guest Services staff who would like to also work in the international operations.

No clear plans were forthcoming but discussions will continue. We also know additional staff are being hired for these positions.

We think it is also important that Virgin staff get considered for these new jobs and we await the company response to our suggestions.

Next meeting

Our next agreement meeting is scheduled for Monday 29th July 2013

Need more information?

For more information please contact your local Organisers [download the full bulletin below for details].


icon Virgin Australia Bulletin #20 - 12 July 2013

Contact Details
Name: Linda White, ASU Assistant National Secretary
Telephone: 03 9342 1400
More info: All ASU Virgin News