Cinema Award hearings before Fair Work Australia
Monday, 24 September 2012
Since May 2012 the Alliance has been in ongoing negotiations with cinema owners to update the industry’s base award provisions. The modern award covering cinema staff, the Broadcasting and Recorded Entertainment Award 2010, has been underutilised to enterprise awards (EAs) or enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs) covering over 90% of the industry.
However, the importance of the modern award is due to change in the next twelve to eighteen months, as Fair Work Australia and employers move to cancel EAs and EBAs, thereby leaving many more workers subject to the award’s minimum conditions.
The task of converting a minimum standards award to one that reflects the reality of mainstream pay and working conditions, especially at the major cinema chains, has been challenging.
Over the course of three lengthy conciliation conferences and a formal hearing earlier this month (6 September 2012) before Senior Deputy President Hamberger of Fair Work Australia, a range of matters have been determined, including:
- A flatter and more workable classification system spanning Cinema Worker One (entry level) to Cinema Worker Six (cinema manager)
- The consequential removal of the award’s distinction between management personnel and cinema workers generally
- A new entry level position that allows progression to level 2 following cash handling training
- Pay increases for cinema workers at Cinema Worker 4, 5 and 6 levels
- Improved Rostering provisions
- Employee rights to request and opt out of flexible working arrangements
The currant award contains protections to prevent existing staff members suffering a loss in take-home pay as a result of the new award taking effect. The Alliance will vigorously assert that protection on members’ behalf and oppose any move by cinema operators to reduce pay and conditions.
Junior Rates of Pay Not Yet Agreed
The most extensively debated issue between the Alliance and employer representatives was that of junior rates of pay. Employers repeatedly pressed for no change to the award’s junior rates of pay system for 16 to 20 year-olds. The result of a status quo arrangement could have led to pay reductions of up to 25% compared to rates now being paid by major cinema companies. The Alliance forcefully argued that the major cinema chains should not be allowed to pay less and advised FWA that a failure to adjust the Award’s junior rates would give cinema owners the incentive of terminating the employment of existing casual staff and replacing them with lower-paid workers.
At the September 6 hearing, the Alliance put forward a new model that would see junior cinema employees continue to be paid at rates close to or above those now being paid by Hoyts, Village and Greater Union.
In light of the lack of agreement between the parties and the Alliance’s submissions, FWA will now not decide the issue of junior rates of pay until late 2012 or early 2013.