Ford agreement goes to the vote

On May 18, during proceedings in Fair Work Australia, negotiations ended between Ford and the Electrical Trades Union and Australian Metal Workers Metals Division over the “Ford Australia Enterprise Agreement 2009 (Skilled Trades)”.

The content of the agreement has been the subject of a dispute that has involved two 24-hour strikes.

All workers covered by the agreement were due to vote on the proposed agreement on June 1 in a secret ballot. If accepted the agreement would have a nominal expiry date of July 31, 2012. The agreement would exclude other Ford workers doing essentially the same work, but who come under the “Ford Australia Geelong Powertrain Operations Closure Enterprise Agreement 2008”, which doesn't end until December.

Ford conceded to union demands for more apprentices after failing to employ any over the past three years. The proposed agreement includes 13 new apprentice positions in 2011 and a further six in 2012.

Pay rises are in the agreement are in dollars rather than percentage terms. This means workers on higher gross wages would receive a proportionally lower pay rise than their colleagues on lower wage rates.

The agreement includes a $30 a week wage rise to be paid July 31, another $30 a week wage rise on August 31, 2011 and a $20 a week wage rise paid July 1, 2012.

All allowances, including the mechanical/electrical flexibility allowance paid to all trades people, will be raised by 2.5% on July 31 and 2.5% on August 31, 2011. A worker on level one will go from $1025.15 to $1105.15 a week and a worker on level six will go from $1315.95 to $1395.95 a week over the life of the agreement.

Some other improvements include:

• All accrued sick leave entitlements can be used for carer's leave;

• Increased paid paternity leave entitlement from five days to 10;

• Skilled trades employees who were in the previous annual bonus payment scheme will automatically transfer to a new sick leave payout-on-retirement scheme, allowing all unused sick leave accrued from July 31 (capped at 30 days), to be paid out on retirement.

• 20 minute breaks during hours of work where temperatures reach 41°C or greater and

• Improved voluntary separation terms for any future outsourcing actions.