WRA 2020

1 JULY 2019 - THE ADF WAGE CASE  - ITS NEARLY THAT TIME AGAIN !!

On 16 August 2017 the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal (DFRT) sat to consider the Offer made by the Commonwealth and ADF for the ADF Workplace Remuneration Arrangement (WRA) 2017-2020. Basically, the Offer called for an annual increase in ADF Remuneration of 2% per annum in each of the three years.

That revised Offer followed extensive national lobbying by the DFWA which argued against the initial Offer that included “offets” including loss of leave entitlements for ADF members.  The DFWA was vermently opposed to the concerpt of offets and as a direct result of our lobbying and the national outcy that resulted, the Commonwealth and ADF submitted a new Offer for the Tribunal to consider, which deleted any reference to Offsets.

The DFWA then advised the Tribunal that:

a.       The proposed new 2/2/2% offer was at best marginally acceptable, as on the (then) current projections it would in all probably result in a diminution of spending power for most ADF families, and particularly for those on lower pay grades.

b.       We were disappointed to see that the Government had pursued a strategy of providing less than the (then) current Treasury forecast for CPI and WPI movement. We believed that, in time, such an approach would only make it more difficult for Defence to recruit and more particularly, to retain the high-quality people it needed in a technological age.

c.       Because this matter had been brought pursuant to s58KD of the Defence Act (see explanation below), the Tribunal’s authority in considering the matter was significantly reduced – that is, it could only give effect to the WRA, or could reject it entirely. We made the point that we did not believe rejection would be in the best interests of ADF members, and we therefore offered our reluctant support for the Offer.

Accordingly, the three year (2017-2020) WRA for the ADF gave ADF members a 2% pa wage increase for each of those three years, but without any offset or reductions of ADF member conditions of service or entitlements.

Read more about the 2017 WRA here.

SO WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN IN 2020 ?

Defence will start development of a new Arrangement during 2020, with a view to having it in place by the time the current 2020 WRA expires. The DFWA will again monitor the development of what the Commonwealth and ADF may offer, and represent the interests of members of the ADF at the DFRT.  

 

EXPLAINING s35B, s58H s58KD of the Defence Act

The Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal is an independent statutory body established pursuant to the Defence Act 1903.   Matters referred to the Tribunal are typically considered in one of two ways:  pursuant to Section 58H of the Act, or pursuant to Section 58KD of the Act. 

Section 58H allows the Tribunal to inquire into and determine the salaries and relevant allowances to be paid to members, or in respect of other matters brought before it.  A matter referred under Section 58H therefore allows the Tribunal to either accept, reject, or change it according to their own consideration. In this way the Tribunal’s powers are not limited: it may agree to the proposal brought before it, or dismiss it, or determine changes to it. 

By contrast, Section 58KD of the Act states the Tribunal may, in making a determination, only give effect to any agreement reached between the Parties (that is, the Minister (acting on behalf of the Commonwealth) and the CDF (acting on behalf of all ADF members), or reject it.  The Tribunal has no authority to change the proposal or make other Determination in its consideration.. This significantly limits the Tribunal’s authority.

Historically, Workplace Remuneration Arrangements are always brought to the Tribunal as matters agreed between the Parties, and so are typically the only occasions where Section 58KD is used. 

Finally, Section 58B refers to those matters that the Minister can directly control, and are outside the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. In this case it refers to matters relating to changes that the Department of Defence can levy on members – such as GRS, rations and quarters, etc.