Bureaucratic bungle: New NT public servant enterprise agreement thrown out by Fair Work

by | Mar 4, 2022 | Business, News | 0 comments

The Northern Territory’s public servants have had their new enterprise agreement thrown out by the Fair Work Commission after it was incorrectly filed and did not include details of extended leave entitlements that workers had voted on.

The FWC’s Full Bench made the decision Friday afternoon, which will likely result in the Commissioner for Public Employment Vicki Telfer re-filing the agreement or, in the worst case scenario, sources said, could mean another vote by government employees.

The enterprise agreement was approved by 57 per cent of eligible employees in December, after months of controversy over the Gunner Government’s move to introduce a four year pay freeze in exchange for $10,000 in lump sum payments over the period.

It’s not believed the payments to employees will be affected by the decision at this time.

The FWC found that the proposed agreement had been amended in November to include a sub-clause around extra days of leave at Christmas that was put to employees to vote on, which they approved as the final version on December 17, 2021.

However, the agreement that was signed and filed with the Fair Work Commission by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment and brought into effect on January 31, was an earlier version which did not contain the leave revisions.

“The error was not discovered until February 7, 2022 by which time the purported agreement had been approved and had commenced operation,” the Full Bench of the FWC stated in their decision.

The error was brought forward by a public servant seeking a correction, however, the decision to approve the erroneous agreement had already been finalised and a variation could not be made.

The matter was then appealed to the FWC who quashed the entire agreement on Friday afternoon.

“Plainly, on the undisputed facts, the purported agreement approved … was not made in accordance with s 182(1) of the Act,” the FWC said in its ruling.

“Accordingly, that agreement was incapable of approval under s 186. In the circumstances it is appropriate to grant permission to appeal, and we uphold the appeal and quash the decision.”

Ms Telfer’s office did not respond to questions.

The CPSU was also contacted.

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