Since the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission’s (QIRC) arbitration, there has been a lot of comment about its references to a Work Value case. Some have taken these references to mean that United Voice should have in the past, or should in the future, run a Work Value case. Further, there is the misapprehension that such a case would win significant pay rises for members.
United Voice takes these concerns seriously and always deeply considered the merits or otherwise of running a Work Value case. We do not rush off without a solid basis for our actions and decisions. These are the facts:
- Any interpretation of the QIRC’s recent decision that suggests it was in some way urging the union to run a Work Value case represent a seriously flawed understanding of the decision. But, to be sure, United Voice sought an urgent meeting with our specialist industrial lawyers, Hall Payne, to advise on the correct interpretation of the decision.
- Our lawyers advise the QIRC was in fact saying that while a Work Value case could technically be run, it did not believe the Work Value principle would be met in terms of a significant increase in roles / responsibilities since these matters were previously considered in the 2010 determination.
- This advice is consistent with the formal written advice in 2012 when United Voice sought opinion on running a work value case then. Click here to read this legal advice. In short, it clearly says that there would be no gain from running such a case.
- It makes no sense for United Voice to refuse to run a Work Value case if it was in the best interests of members. In fact, United Voice spent twice as much in this recent arbitration as it would cost to run a Work Value case.
- United Voice provided the same advice in 2012 to Australian Paramedics Association Queensland (APAQ) while trying to achieve a cooperative approach. APAQ has never provided United Voice with any properly considered industrial legal advice to the contrary. In the end, APAQ chose not to represent its members in the 2012 case.
A summary of the legal advice received by Hall Payne is available by clicking here.
The sad fact is that the QIRC has been hamstrung by the Newman Government’s legislation. Indeed, the QIRC itself hints quite clearly at this this in Clause 74 of its decision:
“… the Commission considers that it is unable to award any increase beyond the 2.2% per annum figure proposed by the QAS”
It goes on to say that even if the merits of the union’s wage claim were accepted, it could not be
“accommodated within the financial constraints that the State Government has presently imposed on itself and the QAS…”.
APAQ may try to convince Ambulance Officers of something different, but that would completely ignore the best legal advice available – and more importantly – the blatantly obvious political realities. The QIRC will not go against the Government in any major way. It has been hamstrung.
False hope will devastate already stressed Ambulance Officers. United Voice will not partake in campaigns that mislead members and offer false hope in return for membership.
However, we will commit to a campaign designed by the vast majority of Ambulance Officers across the state. We are embarking on a state-wide consultation tour from this week to hear directly from you. If that requires additional resources – we will provide it.
Your State Council will consider your feedback and make a decision about the best way forward – and report back to you.
Click here to access a copy of this update in PDF form.