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Fair Work Commission makes Optus modern award

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has now made the Optus modern enterprise award, the Optus Award 2015. 

The order making the award was issued by Commissioner Smith on 17 July. It marks the conclusion of over 18 months of discussions between Optus and the CWU, both inside and outside the Commission. 

E-bulletin readers who have followed this saga will remember that in October last year the FWC made an in-principle decision in favour of making a modern enterprise award, rather than adopting the modern industry award (the Telecommunications Services Award 2010 (TSA)). Both Optus and the CWU has argued for this course of action – not least, in the CWU’s case, in order to preserve the existing award’s 40 week redundancy entitlement. 

Since that time Optus and the CWU have held discussions over variations the CWU wanted to have made to the draft enterprise award submitted to the FWC by Optus.  A number of these – but not all - were agreed to before the proposed award was finally brought back to the FWC earlier this month. 

The new Optus Award 2015 does not differ dramatically from the previous award. It preserves the (maximum) 40 week redundancy entitlement together with a number of other provisions that are better than those in the TSA e.g. 20% rather than 15% night shift loadings. 

However, the CWU was successful in also making some improvements to the previous Optus award: 

  • Clear limitation of the number of ordinary hours that can be worked in any day to 10.
  • Provision of a 30% loading for continuous night shift.
  • Regulation of 12 hour shifts (based on TSA wording).
  • Inclusion of a number of allowances that were previously only found in policy (and so not enforceable):
    • An entitlement to reimbursement of travel and relocation costs
    • Entitlement to higher duties payment (after two months acting in the position (Optus’ prior policy was three months)
    • Explicit commitment to fund the costs of HSR training.

These new provisions will now become part of the award “safety net” to underpin the next round of enterprise bargaining with Optus, due to commence in early August.

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