Home' Teacher : May 2010 Contents 58 TEACHER MAY 2010
The 10 National Employment Standards of
the Commonwealth Fair Work Act 2009
cannot be undercut in any aspect by awards,
agreements or practice for national system
employers, but the applicability of modern
awards in the educational services sector is
much more restricted.
'Covered by' but not 'apply to'
The vast majority of Australia's school
employees -- both teachers and non-teachers
-- will find that even if the modern awards
'cover' their employment in this industry,
the modern awards will not 'apply' to their
employment either because they have had a
formal collective agreement at some stage
or they are employed by a state government
which has not transferred its industrial rela-
tions (IR) powers to the Commonwealth.
For an employer to suggest that there is a
requirement under the National Employ-
ment Standards or modern awards to lower
any existing condition of employment to the
minimum safety net would be dishonest.
Modern awards are likely to actually
'apply' to the following classes of national
employees being paid higher than the
old award rate at the initiative of the
employer, but where that arrangement
has never been formalised in either a
state or federal agreement
employees who have negotiated above
award salary or conditions, but have
never formalised the arrangement in a
state or federal collective agreement
employees being paid by reference to
another school's agreement without ever
being formally bound by that or any
previously award-free, non-managerial
staff such as those in some business col-
award-dependent employees such as
those whose pay and conditions were
dictated only by a state or federal award.
Modern awards will not 'apply' even if the
school's enterprise agreement is long past
its nominal expiry date. In South Australia,
for example, there are some schools which
did enter into a minimalistic enterprise
agreement in order to comply with the
1996 structu ral efficiency wage rises.
Even if these agreements have never been
MODERN AWARDS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE A SAFETY NET FOR LOW-PAID WORKERS WITH LITTLE COORDINATED
INDUSTRIAL MUSCLE. WHILE THEY WILL HAVE NO APPLICATION TO THE VAST MAJORITY OF AUSTRALIAN
SCHOOLS, EDUCATORS COULD BE CONNED INTO AGREEING TO THEIR LOWEST-COMMON-DENOMINATOR
CONDITIONS. GLEN SEIDEL'S ADVICE? DON'T BE.
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