Sensis workers vote for deal, but plenty more to fight for next time

Workers have voted to accept both Enterprise Agreements at Sensis after a year long campaign. But a substantial minority followed the AMWU’s recommendation to vote no, defying management intimidation that they wouldn’t get a pay rise, or have “certainty” otherwise.

Improvements already won, along with company intimidation and the CPSU recommending a yes vote on the Partnership Agreement convinced a majority to vote yes. Sensis also played heavily on the decline in revenue from the Yellow Pages books as a threat to jobs. One worker at Sensis told Solidarity, “Management were unprofessional, they were just bullies. But we won’t give up trying to win RDOs and a better deal next time”.

54 voted no and 188 yes on the Advertising and Design Agreement (A&DA), whilst 201 voted no and 901 yes on the Partnership Agreement.

The no vote registered a desire to fight on over issues including targets, equal pay for temps, RDOs and reasonable hours for all Sensis staff as well as getting more positions shifted onto the A&DA, with its entitlements to RDOs and higher overtime pay. The vote no campaign raised the profile of all these issues. It also unleashed the creativity of graphic designers at Sensis, who produced their own posters to plaster all over the workplace.

But it was only the campaign, a protest of over 60 staff, and a successful vote for protected industrial action, that saw AMWU members win:
n  Keeping the A&DA when Sensis wanted to scrap it and roll it into the inferior Partnership Agreement
n  Keeping the Graphic Arts Award 2000 rather the modernised award
n  Making sure RDOs are available to new employees
n  Stopping cashing out of annual leave
n  Getting Web Specialists onto the A&DA

There was also an improvement won on targets, with agreement to record higher performance for all staff, after delays and problems with implementing new targets.

Workers will get a pay rise of 3 per cent for satisfactory performance on the new agreements, rather than the 4 per cent of the past. But almost everyone on the A&DA, plus Advertising Data Specialists, will get 4 per cent this year as a result of the agreement on targets.

Some Advertising Data Specialists were rightfully angry that the CPSU wouldn’t support their claims. But the substantial no vote on the Partnership Agreement (given its low union density) gives hope of a majority next time.

This agreement is for two years. Negotiations for a new one will begin in 18 months. Most of those who voted no are positive about building union membership to win a better deal by then.
A Sensis worker


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