2 February 2022

NGA staff reject proposed workplace deal

| Ian Bushnell
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national gallery of Australia

The National Gallery of Australia is still searching for a new workplace deal. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Staff at the National Gallery of Australia have emphatically rejected a proposed new workplace deal that the NGA hoped would simplify and modernise practices at the national institution.

But NGA management ran into a sustained campaign from the public servants union, which claimed the proposed Enterprise Agreement would strip 40 entitlements from staff.

The CPSU said the deal would remove flexible work and reduce part-time rights, tighten flexitime arrangements, allow hours to be averaged over four weeks to avoid overtime, and drastically reduce performance management and learning and professional development rights.

It also claimed that the EA would deny suggested improvements, including a broad and inclusive definition of family that recognises kinship, a comprehensive right to a safe workplace free of harassment, a detailed process for dealing with sexual harassment, and fair pay advancement for casuals.

The union also sought five years’ unpaid parental leave.

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The CPSU said it had won a higher loading and 5 per cent boost to the higher duties allowance for casual staff.

CPSU Deputy National Secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch said Gallery staff had sent a clear message to management about their attempt to make 40 cuts to the NGA agreement, returning a resounding no vote of 75 per cent.

“This no vote provides the Gallery another opportunity to come to the table as a responsible and reasonable employer,” she said.

“Management’s first action should be reinstating conditions it has attempted to cut in the offer that was just resoundingly voted down.”

Ms Vincent-Pietsch said NGA management could have avoided this situation if current conditions for workers were maintained, instead of trying to make cuts.

“CPSU members and delegates will continue to stand up for maintaining conditions, secure jobs and sensible improvements through a better bargaining policy,” she said.

Ms Vincent-Pietsch urged management to come to the table and engage with worker claims and concerns, and resume bargaining immediately.

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The Gallery said it would continue to work with the staffing body and bargaining representatives to reach a mutually agreeable position.

“Our goal is an Enterprise Agreement that clearly sets out employee entitlements, is easy to use and understand, and is of benefit to the National Gallery and to all employees,” it said.

The Gallery had previously denied that the new EA would affect flexible working rights or change conditions for part-time and casual staff.

The Gallery has about 300 staff, with last year’s Budget Papers showing an average staffing level of 217.

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Anyone know what the pay offer was?

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