VENTIA ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT TO GO TO BALLOT 

UFU members employed by Ventia at Edinburgh and Woomera will welcome the news that the enterprise agreement (EA) negotiated between the parties last year will finally go to ballot in coming weeks, with just a few small last-minute changes proposed by the company and agreed by your bargaining representatives. 

While it’s been an unusually extended period for employer representatives to work through the company’s novel EA approval process, we understand their frustration and appreciate the hard work and technicalities involved in them getting to this point. 

Ventia management have advised that with our agreement, they are currently proceeding to make the arrangements for the independent electronic ballot process, and we are advised that this is likely to commence with the final draft EA going out to members on 8 April together with information sessions commencing that week, followed by the ballot scheduled to take place 17 – 18 April 2024. 

You will also be advised of the arrangements by which you can vote, usually by SMS to your mobile number and/or an email with directions on how to vote online if that is your preference. A majority of votes will determine the acceptance or rejection of the proposed EA. 

If accepted by a majority, an application is then submitted to the Fair Work Commission for approval and certification of the EA, and the date of implementation is determined. As previously advised, Ventia has agreed to honour the operative date and backpay the 4% first year wage increase to the first full pay period on or after 14 February 2024. (then 3%, 2.5% in subsequent years and 2.5% on expiry in 2027). 

If a majority reject the EA, the parties return to the negotiation table. 

Members are thanked for your patience in what has been an extended process and in particular, the hard work and resilience of the UFU bargaining representatives from both Edinburgh and Woomera is acknowledged and greatly appreciated. 

Your UFU bargaining reps recommend the draft EA to you for your consideration and acceptance. 

AND CONSIDERATION OF MATTERS FOR OUR NEXT EA…

It’s always of interest to keep an eye open on what is being negotiated in enterprise agreements around the country and particularly those covering firefighters. Many members are remarking upon the Ventia EA recently approved by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in WA, which contains an extended leave provision. (The EA can be publicly accessed via agreement search on the FWC website.) 

Your UFU SA BRANCH EA bargaining representatives met yesterday to discuss the WA provision and the conditions involved. We believe there is no doubt that our members would be interested in extended leave however there are real concerns about the trade-off required in the WA situation and the way in which the provision should apply. (i.e. shouldn’t it extend to all members accepting the very modest pay increases?) 

It’s reported that members in WA have been divided about the desire for extended leave versus its cost of the consequent greatly reduced pay increases for all, over the life of the agreement. (September 2022 3%, 2023 1.38%, 2024 1%, 2025 1%) 

Ultimately, our SA reps unanimously agreed that any delay to progressing our EA in South Australia would not be tenable particularly as to return to the table at this point in negotiations would potentially put our wage increases and operative date/backpay at considerable risk. 

Therefore it was determined to move ahead with a ballot on the current negotiated EA and to carefully consider and discuss equitable proposals for extended leave which may form part of our next log of claims, subject to members’ approval. 

If the current draft EA is accepted at the forthcoming ballot and is certified by the Fair Work Commission, negotiations on the next EA will likely commence in September 2026, six months prior to the nominal EA expiration date of 14 February 2027 and management have been advised of our interest in this matter of extended leave. 

It’s never too soon to start work on the next enterprise agreement! 

VENTIA ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT TO GO TO BALLOT 

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