EBA recognises the needs of the business

CHALLENGE: Our client, a construction supply business had an existing union template enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA), that was nearing expiry. The agreement could be characterised as being highly prescriptive making it complex to administer; limited in it’s flexibility and links to productivity. It was heavily prescribed to the union’s template terms and conditions, with little relevance to the needs of the business and it’s staff.

SOLUTION: Partnered with our client to determine the current and future needs of a collective agreement to cover their manufacturing department. We combined this understanding with a detailed analysis of the existing agreement; not simply the terms, we looked into how these were operationalised in the business, the desired benefits and the direct and indirect costs incurred.

Our counsel to management was to instil trust by demonstrating transparency with staff in the negotiation of the new agreement. To this point we led several open discussions on the intended purpose of the new agreement, inviting staff to provide feedback on what they valued and what they didn’t value. All of these insights were shared with the Union and employee representatives. During negotiations we were clear on our objectives; moving away from a standard union pro-forma EBA template as this no longer met the needs of the business. We started an open dialogue on shaping a new agreement.

Flexibility and productivity were two key drivers. This negotiation was not about taking the certainty of benefits away from staff; rather providing more upside and importantly linking new benefits to improved productivity in the workplace. Constructive engagement with the union enabled out client to achieve considerable change.

RESULTS: The draft agreement was voted up by the staff. The new agreement reflected the needs of both the workplace and staff; it was simplified and more meaningful. The relationship with the union was strengthened through the constructive and consultative approach adopted; the time and effort invested to shape the agreement also delivered cultural and employee engagement benefits.