The Victorian Government recently slashed a promised $8 million
grant to the national information and communications technology
research centre (NICTA), wiping out 80% of its budget.1
As a result, the organisation was forced to close its Melbourne
research operations and reduce staff at its Parkville laboratory
from 91 to 15.2
In that process, NICTA issued retrenchment notices to most of
the Melbourne staff, many of whom had been recruited only recently
to work on key research projects. Some had given up good jobs
overseas and relocated their families to Australia in the
reasonable expectation that they would be working at NICTA for some
time to help advance Australia's technological leadership.
Rose & Barton Australia was asked to represent a group of 25
of the 76 employees who had been retrenched.3 NICTA had
offered their staff only the absolute bare minimum under the Fair
Work Act. This meant that some staff, including those who had only
recently relocated from overseas, got nothing at all, having not
yet completed a full year of service. Others were offered only a
few weeks' pay to compensate them for the sudden loss of their
livelihoods. The Fair Work Act requires employers to provide
redeployment opportunities within the business wherever possible,
but due to the funding black hole, NICTA's hands were
Colin Rose, Founder of Rose and Barton and the firm's
industrial relations specialist, arranged a Fair Work Australia
hearing and was due to represent the staff there on March 12.
However, this turned out not to be necessary. Engaging with NICTA
to review the situation and to secure a fairer settlement for the
staff affected, he managed to negotiate a successful settlement
within days of taking on the case. Staff whose retrenchment
packages had been zero will now be obtaining ex gratia
payments and others will receive payments in excess of their
minimum statutory entitlements.
The importance of good industrial relations cannot be
underestimated. In good times, well-negotiated EBAs ensure that
morale and performance are maintained; in times of crisis,
well-managed industrial relations ensure that tough decisions are
made fairly and can be implemented without damaging the reputation
and credibility the organisation. It is quite extraordinary that so
many large and mid-size companies do not have staff that are
trained in industrial relations.
About Rose & Barton Australia:
We help our clients to achieve their objectives. Because success
is negotiated, Rose & Barton provides skills training,
consulting, one-on-one coaching and advanced negotiation support to
companies, government organisations, unions and individuals.
Rose & Barton specialise in challenging negotiations, such
as complex or high-stakes transactions, industrial relations, major
procurement, negotiations involving monopolies or other power
imbalances and long-running disputes. We are particularly strong in
the pharmaceutical, government, defence, retail and banking
sectors, where long-term relationships are important and even small
improvements can have a large impact on overall deal values.
If your organisation would bene?t from assistance with an
important negotiation, the professional team at Rose & Barton
can help. Operating since 1983, that's all we do. Find out more
on our website at www.roseandbarton.com.au
1"Bionic ear inventor Graeme Clark
slams sackings at NICTA", Bridie Smith, The Age, Feb. 26,
(http://www.theage.com.au/technology/sci-tech/bionic-ear-inventor-graeme-clark-slams-sackings-at-nicta-20140225-33fso.html) 2"Would you make Einstein
redundant?", editorial, The Age, Feb. 27, 2014
(http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-editorial/would-you-make-einstein-redundant-20140226-33isq.html) 3"NICTA lab staff claim sackings breached the
law", Bridie Smith, The Age, Feb. 27, 2014
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