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VLA ends pay dispute


Cite as: (2005) 79(11) LIJ, p. 12

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) was close to ending a long-running dispute with staff over the contents of a new workplace agreement.

VLA and the Community Public Sector Union agreed on 5 October to a revised agreement that included, among other things, a larger pool for performance pay and better long-service and maternity leave arrangements.

The agreement also included an immediate review of the wage classification structure, which was a major sticking point during negotiations.

At the time of writing, the revised agreement was still to be voted on by staff. However, both the VLA and the union were confident staff would vote to accept the agreement, which will run for three years.

The possible agreement came after a three-week campaign by the union to pressure VLA into improving its original offer.

On 19 September VLA staff went on strike. On returning to work on 20 September, staff then imposed work bans, including a ban on overtime and on external communication after work hours and during lunch.

VLA managing director Tony Parsons said the bans were largely ignored by staff and therefore services ran smoothly during the campaign.

Mr Parsons was confident the agreement would not take money away from legal aid services.

“We have very carefully costed our commitment to staff and we have to satisfy both the Department of Treasury and Finance and the Industrial Relations Committee of Cabinet that what we’re committing to staff is not going to have an adverse impact on the community, and in fact is going to give the community value.

“It is a very good outcome for our staff and because the benefits that staff will enjoy are linked to new initiatives and productivity it is going to be a win for the community as well,” Mr Parsons said.


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