Workers threaten Pyjama protest in wages fight

by Stephanie Zillman20 Feb 2013

Victoria Legal Aid’s 600 staff would consider presenting for their shift in “irregular attire during work hours” if their funding demands are not met. Embarrassing? Yes. And that’s the point.

Among 26 actions currently being considered by the Community and Public Sector Union, the ‘irregular attire’ they refer to may include wearing pyjamas, shorts, and thongs into courtrooms and legal offices. Under workplace laws, union members would firstly vote on whether to proceed with any of the outlined actions, and more routine industrial instruments such as a 24-hour strike could also be a possibility.

The threats come as a result of a serious trial being possibly delayed for a third time due to the Legal Aid funding policy. The Age reported that the Supreme Court heard an application from a barrister that a trial be postponed because his client only has funding for a solicitor for two half days of the trial. Two previous trial dates were already adjourned as a result of the funding problem.

Is HR’s IR skillset up-to-date?

Managing director of specialist IR consultancy firm Livingstones, Alex Aspromourgos, recently told HC that as a result of many HR university courses having taken out their practical IR elements and a change to the Fair Work Act in 2009, HR as a profession is lacking in IR skills.

“You get a lot of graduates and younger professionals coming through that really don’t have a lot of theoretical background or understanding to the background of the IR aspects of their role. And I don’t necessarily think that they have an understanding when they come into the roles that basically every HR role has an IR element to it,” Aspromourgos said.

While the need for IR skillsets varies according to the specific role or the industry that HR is operating in, Aspromourgos said many organisations have seen the need to up-skill their HR professionals and they’re taking an active course in order to do that.

L&D in the IR space needn’t be tied to legislative landscape though, Aspromourgos says, because skills such as conflict resolution and proactive intervention are worth their weight in gold. “It’s one of those things that are difficult to put a measure on it, because if it’s done very effectively, with early proactive intervention by HR professionals who can identify the issue and know how to resolve it early, it never escalates. So you never have the comparison between the two scenarios, because you know suddenly, this workplace doesn’t have any particular IR issues.” But it doesn’t all happen by chance, he said – it happens because good HR processes and practices are in place, professionals are correctly skilled, and the systems and the processes of the workplace are consistent and include an early intervention and resolution process.


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