TAFE & Adult Provision Disability members defend their rights

Staff at Mambourin Altona. Photo: Matthew Burke

The collective action of AEU members has blocked moves by disability service Mambourin to terminate the agreement and reduce the rights of staff. Two months ago, Mambourin applied to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to terminate its collective enterprise agreement in favour of the award, which would mean a substantial reduction in conditions for employees.

The collective action of AEU and HACSU members halted the application, meaning Mambourin cannot make changes to staff conditions or try to terminate their agreement prior to a FWC hearing due in February 2020.

During the dispute, more than 90 disability members signed a petition opposing the termination of the agreement, while staff at Mambourin joined the AEU in droves, increasing membership there by 40%. Mambourin staff are now in a much stronger position to negotiate a new agreement that reflects and respects their work.

Elsewhere in the sector, we are hearing accounts of workers not being given non-client time, as required by the agreement. We are looking into this, along with reports that many new employees are not being informed of their right to non-client time.

More broadly, the in-principle multi-enterprise agreement (MEA) for disability members in standalone services has passed the Fair Work Commission’s ‘pre-boot test’ and we expect it to go to a vote before the end of the year. While the lack of transitional funding from government has limited the number of employers willing to sign on, two large services, Uniting and GenU, have recently joined the 15 already registered.

Beyond maintaining and improving wages and conditions for our members, the MEA is a way for the AEU to set benchmarks for all disability workers; to establish positive partnerships with other unions in the sector; and to continue lobbying state and federal governments on improving quality and funding in the NDIS.

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