Working together to protect our future
 
-

As you are probably aware, the Northern Territory Police Association was formed in 1939, so in terms of the Chinese zodiac, your Association takes on the shape of the Rabbit. In as far as the zodiac predictions for Rabbits in 2017 can apply to an incorporated entity, the prediction for the NTPA this year goes something like this:

Expect challenges because the Rooster is the Rabbits exact opposite. Prepare for all sorts of difficulties in 2017, especially financial. Hard work is foreseen, bringing frustration and anger. Stay calm, dear Rabbit.

Given this year is also the year of Consent Agreement negotiations, the above predictions indicate robust discussions are on the cards.

Nothing new, then. This year will be the fourth Consent Agreement negotiations that I will have been part of. Each negotiated outcome has had its own challenges and battles and there is every indication this year will be no different. The predictions put forward in the Chinese Zodiac are certainly reflective of the challenges we envisage over the next three months or so.

Whilst negotiations are undertaken on a without prejudice basis and are largely subject to the Chatham House Rules, I dont think it would be a surprise to anyone that we are going to have work hard to ensure we get to a position where we are comfortable in presenting a proposed Agreement that provides real and fair outcomes for you, our members. This will indeed require hard work and calm negotiations when facing determined restraint from Government particularly from a financial perspective.

The NT Government has recently published its wages policy, which is restricted to a 2.5 per cent increase in salaries inclusive of allowances and superannuation. We do not accept that this is a reasonable position to adopt when negotiating industrial outcomes for the men and women of our Police Force those who are more than any other sector of the Government at the coalface, risking your lives on a daily basis to serve and protect the public.

The NT Government was not backward in coming forward and proudly claiming success over a negotiated outcome to a long-running wages dispute with the Fire Service, including a 3 per cent wage increase backdated by more than three years. The NT News reported the Chief Minister to have stated at the time the concluded negotiations were made public that it was a fair outcome for firefighters who provided a critical service to the community. The NT News quoted Chief Minister Gunner as saying Im proud that firefighters who do the hard yards on the frontline now have certainty about their work conditions and levels of pay.

The NT News also praised the outcome, observing in that days publications Editorial a 3 per cent pay rise (above CPI) for those who risk their lives to safe (sic) ours seems reasonable. Your Association agrees with that sentiment and in our view it is even more relevant to members of the Police Force.

The NT Government of the day can set its general wages policy at whatever level it deems reasonable and can then argue its position in good faith with the relevant employee representative body/s. That said, good faith bargaining includes consideration of any number of variables that will affect the outcome of individual wage claims and it is our position that the Police Force the absolute coalface of front-line engagement with the community are worthy of terms and conditions of employment (including salary increases) that may not necessarily be afforded to other areas of the public sector.

We see relevance in the Chinese Horoscope predictions for our 1939 baby.

If you are interested in what the Chinese say is install for you in 2017, the following website is a pretty good brief summary http://www.rappler.com/life- and-style/arts-and-culture/156781-chinese-zodiac-horoscope-2017-year-of-the-rooster.

FROM THE JUDICIARY

  • Incessant, unwelcome and unsolicited texting of a work colleague amounted to harassment and bullying in the workplace to such an extent that the dismissal of the offending employee was upheld by a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission - Soomro v Murrays Australia Pty Ltd T/A Murrays Australia [2017] FWC 768;
  • Inappropriate and sexually suggestive comments by a manager to a subordinate that caused the subordinate offence and upset was sufficient to warrant the managers dismissal Mr Glenn Rogers v Allianz Insurance Australia T/A Club Marine Insurance [2017] FWC 537;
  • An employee has been awarded more than $600,000 in damages for an aggravation to an existing anxiety disorder after managers failed to properly consider her condition when addressing bullying and harassment claims made by the employee against her supervisor - Wearne v State of Victoria [2017] VSC 25; and
  • An employer has been ordered to reinstate an injured worker to his pre-injury duties after the FWC found the asserted inherent requirements of the role werent essential features of his duties. The FWC member referred to the decision in J Boag and Son Brewing Pty Ltd v Allan John Button [2010] FWAFB 4022 in finding that (the) inherent requirements of a role must be essential features of the role, and must be reasonably and objectively assessed - Martin v TNT Australia Pty Ltd T/A TNT [2017] FWC 440 (20 January 2017).

Finally, there is little doubt that sedentary posturing in the workplace is not very good for you. if you are standing up for too long at work (e.g. POSI duties), take a seat. Alternatively, if you are somewhat desk bound, inclined to sit behind a screen for extended periods and not stretching your legs, get up and move around a little. This was the message that came out of a recent study into occupational sedentary behaviour published in the Applied Ergonomics Journal 60 (2017).

The report found that there was no strict policy development on how sedentary posturing risks should be tackled and that such a policy void should be addressed,
however it did identify some simple practices to incorporate into the daily workplace routine:

  • Walk over and talk to workmates instead of emailing;
  • Take a break from the desk and get some fresh air (you can watch the smokers from a safe distance);
  • Use stairs instead of lifts;
  • Be active on the commute to and from work even standing on the bus rather than sitting would help.

Whilst not rocket science, it is probably something that is ignored to a large degree. There is some serious science going on in this space and ergonomists have highlighted sedentary workplace practices as a growing area of in recognised workplace related injuries. Definitely something to keep an eye on over the medium term.