Firstly, I hope you are all safe and healthy.
I would like to remind everyone that the Delegate and Zone Convenor elections will be taking place at a later stage in the next financial year. Nominations though will be called for shortly; if you are interested in being a Delegate, please look out for the email from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) and follow the instructions. If you would like to know more about the positions, please contact the AFPA office, and we can provide further information.
The pay period ending May 24th will see the last pay rise until a new EA is agreed upon. This 3% pay rise essentially covers the period from 24th May 2023 through 24th May 2024. It is the AFPA’s intent that an agreement will be reached and signed before this date to ensure members do not have to endure delays in their next pay raises. The AFPA EA committee is working through the ideas, suggestions, and proposals tabled to them (many from the membership) and are actively working on a position and log of claims. Shortly, we will start the first leg of national AFPA musters and will be travelling to as many locations as possible to hear from you and provide updates on our progress.
The Remote Locality Allowance (RLA) is a form of compensation paid to employees who work in remote locations where the cost of living is higher than in urban areas. The aim of the RLA is to attract and retain workers in remote locations where it can be challenging to do so due to isolation, lack of services, and significantly higher living costs.
We anticipate that members working at Pine Gap, Exmouth and Geraldton will see a significant increase to their RLA payments. This comes after long-standing lobbying from the AFPA and a significant body of work completed by members in Pine Gap.
It would have a significant impact on members’ standard of living, as well as the AFP’s ability to attract and retain staff in these remote locations. The decision would also have flow-on effects on other workers who have been underpaid or undervalued for their work in challenging and isolated environments. We will keep fighting for these changes also.
This would be a significant gain for workers in remote locations and highlights the importance of fair compensation and recognition for members, regardless of their location or working conditions.
Labour Day, also known as Eight Hours Day in Tasmania and May Day in the Northern Territory and QLD, commemorates the granting of the eight-hour working day for Australians. It also recognises workers’ contributions towards the nation’s economy.
The celebration of May Day on the 1st of May originated with USA union members striking for an eight-hour working day in 1886.
May 1st is recognised as a public holiday in the Northern Territory and Queensland. Stonemasons in Melbourne and Sydney managed to secure an eight-hour working day, thirty years earlier than the USA, in 1856.
Where stonemasons instigated, the Australian unions followed through. They carried on the fight for almost 100 years so that by 1948, all Australians had won the right to eight-hour days and five-day weeks.
Under Australian work laws today, most employees can only work up to 7.6 hours a day or 38 hours a week.
In some industries, it is common to work beyond that limit (such as police, paramedics and firefighters). Any such hours worked should mean you’re paid overtime payments and penalty rates, you accumulate ‘time off in lieu’, or you are otherwise suitably compensated.
While it’s great no one has to work 14-hour days in Australia anymore (and one shouldn’t without the proper compensation), this is why it is important to have a robust and dynamic enterprise agreement that allows for an agile workplace but also compensates members who (due to operational requirements) are doing more than an 8-hour day.
The right to disconnect is another important topic related to workers’ working days. It refers to the idea that employees have the right to disconnect from work-related communication outside of working hours. This includes emails, phone calls, and other forms of communication that can create an always-on work culture and cause burnout.
The right to disconnect has become increasingly relevant in today’s digital age, with many employees expected to be available around the clock. The right to disconnect recognises the importance of work-life balance and mental health and advocates for boundaries between work and personal life. We will be featuring a separate article on this in an upcoming issue of Blue Star.
The AFP, along with workplaces across Australia, is changing, and the AFPA is making sure workers’ rights stay in sync with these changes. We want to see an EA that will help prevent excessive work hours and ensure all workers have a good work-life balance.
No one wants to dedicate their energy to work each day only to end up burnt out and disconnected from family and friends. The best way of making change for the better in your own workplace is to be a member of the AFPA and encourage your colleagues to also join if they haven’t already.