Bulletin 14 - Sixth notice of protected industrial action - pay deductions - issued 31 August 2022

Safety and welfare of staff and prisoners

I have asked the union to reinstate the withdrawn support that was previously provided to assist with the contingency plan for both Darwin and Alice Springs correctional centres to minimise the threat of endangering health and safety of staff and prisoners.

Sixth notice of protected industrial action - pay deductions

On 23 August 2022 United Workers Union (UWU) provided me with another protected industrial action. Read the sixth notice of protected industrial action PDF (160.0 KB).

The notice states the following action has been advised:

Protected action no. 4 - An unlimited number of stoppages of work of 12 hours duration.

This will commence:

  • at 0700 hours on 1 September 2022 and conclude at 1900 hours on 1 September 2022 at the Darwin Correctional Centre, and
  • at 0800 hours on 1 September 2022 and conclude at 2000 hours on 1 September 2022 at the Alice Springs Correctional Centre.

Protected action no. 10 - Members will cease complying with NTCS policies about the wearing of uniforms when engaging in union-organised public events.

This will commence:

  • at 0700 hours on 1 September 2022 and conclude at 1900 hours on 1 September 2022 at the Darwin Correctional Centre, and
  • at 0800 hours on 1 September 2022 and conclude at 2000 hours on 1 September 2022 at the Alice Springs Correctional Centre.

Employees who participate in the stoppage of work will be deducted pay for the period of the stoppage. This is a mandatory requirement of the Fair Work Act 2009, which prohibits an employer from making payment to an employee for the total duration that the employee engages in the industrial action.

I am extremely disappointed to hear that my improved offer has been rejected, particularly when I had verbally offered the union paid stop work meetings on Thursday for members to discuss the improvements if the stoppage was paused. This would have meant that correctional officers did not lose pay.

Unprotected industrial action

As previously reported, non-members who participate in the UWU industrial action will be taking unprotected industrial action. In accordance with the Act, I am required to deduct salary for unprotected industrial action as follows:

  • where the period of the industrial action is less than 4 hours on that day, the employer must withhold 4 hours payment from the employee, or
  • if the period of the industrial action is 4 or more hours on that day, the employer must withhold payment for the total duration of the industrial action.

Employees not participating in the protected industrial action

Employees are required to notify of non participation so the agency can plan for alternate arrangements necessary during this period. This can be done by advising the deputy superintendent.

Employees not participating in the protected industrial action may be required to perform duties in areas being impacted by the action, and may also be requested to perform overtime.

Members of the union have a right to take protected industrial action, they also have a right to not participate. No adverse action must be taken against an employee exercising their right.  If you have any concerns or experience adverse action, please report to your general manager immediately.

Chief correctional officers

Employees performing duties of chief correctional officers (CCOs) and above, either as their nominal position or on temporary promotion, are covered by the Northern Territory Public Sector 2021-2025 enterprise agreement and are not eligible to participate in the protected industrial action.

As required, CCOs and above may be re-tasked to perform alternate duties during this period. I wish to thank you for your cooperation in ensuring the safety of the staff, prisoners and the public.

Important information for employees and UWU members considering taking protected industrial action

I remind employees who are considering taking protected industrial action to be aware of the following:

  • Partaking in protected industrial action is voluntary. Members eligible to take action are not required to participate.
  • Only employees who are members of UWU are eligible to participate in protected industrial action.
  • Only actions that UWU notify me of may be taken as protected industrial action. Taking other action that is not notified will be unprotected.
  • Deductions from salary will be required from union members who engage in work stoppages, for the total duration of stoppage.
  • Non-members who participate in any industrial action will be considered to be taking unprotected industrial action and, in accordance with the Act, I am required to deduct a minimum of 4 hours salary for any unprotected industrial action.

Please also note that during a period of industrial action employees remain subject to the code of conduct with regard to appropriate workplace behaviour. This means no bullying, no harassing, no aggressive behaviours by any employees.

I have asked the union to remind members that it is not appropriate for members to book off on sick leave to participate in or avoid protected industrial action.

More information about the bargaining process

Regular updates in relation to the bargaining process are posted to this page. Further information on bargaining and the Act can be obtained at Fair Work Commission website or you can call the Fair Work Commission information line on 1300 799 675.

Vicki Telfer PSM
Commissioner for Public Employment
31 August 2022


Last updated: 31 August 2022

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