Developments at ONCALL

You may have received an email on 16/06/2022 regarding the changeover from All Graduates to ONCALL and the rates of pay which will apply to sessional interpreters at Centrelink. This email has now been recalled.

It has come to our attention that parts of this email encourage action which may result in breaches of the Fair Work Act.

Please note the national day of action is not proceeding. Professionals Australia is unable to sanction this action because if it is unlawful, it would expose individuals who took part to financial penalties.

This does not mean that we are not supporting your fight for fair pay rates.

In fact, we are escalating our efforts to address the systemic issues that allow LSPs (agencies) to undercut and undermine your pay rates. The experience at ONCALL has shown that pay rates can be cut by LSPs/agencies at any time when government agency contracts change and fail to include adequate standards in terms of quality, pay, employment conditions and professionalism.

Procurement policies and practices must change and provide higher standards in the future.

TIA meeting with ONCALL management

On Monday evening, TIA representatives and members met with representatives at ONCALL to discuss our concerns about sessional pay rates. ONCALL refused to publish a standard rates schedule (which has been provided in the past), refused to share the rates with TIA as your legal representative and insisted on dealing with you individually.

This is a tactic to divide and diminish your power and strength as a collective.

What we can do together to address pay and conditions at ONCALL

As individuals, you have little power to negotiate your pay rates and working conditions with ONCALL.

As a collective, the balance of power shifts - we can make change happen and achieve better pay and conditions. The best way to achieve this is through an Enterprise Agreement (EA).

The current individual contracts at ONCALL do not provide security, improvements or any say in your terms and conditions of employment. An EA is negotiated between a union and an employer and is a legally enforceable agreement under the Fair Work Act. An EA provides legal protection and helps secure better pay and working conditions through one agreement that covers everyone.

That's why at our meeting on Monday, we requested that ONCALL commence bargaining with TIA for a single enterprise agreement covering all Translators and Interpreters. Unsurprisingly, they refused to commit, but this doesn't have to stop us. Following the meeting, TIA took the next step: writing to ONCALL formally asking them to agree to negotiate an EA with your union. You can read the letter here.

How we can all help to secure better pay and conditions at ONCALL

We await a formal response from ONCALL, but we can't stand still. There is a lot of work to do! To show your support and solidarity:

  1. Spread the message across your networks so that all translators and interpreters working at ONCALL can join this campaign and support one another. You can also share this link to the update online.
  2. Complete this short survey to help us understand how you are affected. Please also share this survey with your colleagues who work for ONCALL. We need every ONCALL translator and interpreter to complete this survey to build a case for change at ONCALL.
  3. Join your union! No one can win this individually. Employers believe that we are fragmented – we work in different places, in different languages, and they exploit that. Everyone must work together to win. The power to win rests with each of us coming together as a union.