Telstra EBA – What does the Expiry Date mean

Telstra’s current 2015-2018 EBA – what does the “expiry date” mean, and what does it allow?

Much debate has been occurring in some areas of the possibility by the employer to make application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to “terminate” our current (albeit expired) 2015-2018 Enterprise Agreement. The result of a “termination”, if it was to take effect, would mean a reversion to the Telstra “Modern Award”, which is known as the “Telstra Award 2015” (identification number MA000123). The latest version of this award is 20 June 2019, with minor changes as a result of minimum wage orders from the FWC. The award is available on the FWC web site – just google the title and identification number.

An article relating to the most recent decision on an attempt to terminate an EBA appeared in Friday 6 September Age newspaper. ExxonMobil subsidiary Esso had sought to axe the long standing EBA which had expired in 2011. This dispute, known as the Esso Longford dispute, had involved, amongst other things, 5 years of disputation, including a long term picket at the Longford site. Ultimately, FWC Deputy President Val Gostencnik dismissed the application, indicating that terminating the 2011 EBA would have undermined the Esso employees bargaining power too greatly, and the resulting unfairness to employees resulting from the weakening of the bargaining position weighed significantly in the Deputy President’s conclusion.

Quite a number of other decisions relating to terminations of EBA’s have occurred over the last few years, but it would appear that there are only a handful of applications have been successful, mainly in the mining sector. There are a number of references to expired EBA termination, and judging by the commentary, particularly from legal firms such as Clayton Utz and even the Australian Industry Group (AIG) put the EBA termination threat into context. In fact, the AIG article indicates that a unilateral decision to terminate an expired EBA faces a “high bar”.

So clearly, the ability of Telstra to terminate our current EBA should be seen in that context, and the situation of having a new EBA that contains the contentious cl 45 should be carefully considered in the current debate. We certainly are still protected by our current 2015 – 2018 EBA clauses, and our initial EBA demand of a 3 year “roll over” of that 2015 – 2018 agreement probably should be reconsidered. Clearly, Telstra have indicated that the cl 45 would be an integral part of the replacement EBA – something that remains very contentious in the minds of our Victorian members.

Here are some links related to the above: (copy and paste into web browser)
https://www.claytonutz.com/knowledge/2010/october/when -is-it-appropriate-to-terminate-enterprise-agreements
https://blog.aigroup.com.au/terminating-expired-enterprise -agreements-is-the-system-broken-or-balanced/
CEPU Web site (cwuvic.org.au) – Age Article 6 Sept.

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