2017 - TTIA and industry highlights
Yes, another year’s sands filter down the hourglass, which mean it’s time to reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly in 2017!
Let’s go with the good first. In anyone’s assessment, it has been an exceptionally busy year in terms of demand for the services and timber products for our Members. It’s definitely been a while coming, but the surge in work and building activity has been most welcome and worth the wait! My long-term trusty barometer of industry health might not be scientific, but it’s measured by the number of Members who have enquired about the redundancy provisions in our Timber Industry Award as to how things are going. This year, I can’t recollect one call or discussion on our TTIA hotline where a Member was looking to either make an employee redundant or reduce their hours due to economic reasons or slackness of trade. If anything, the lack of suitable employees to fill positions due to the increased customer demand has been the real topic of discussion and source of frustration.
In terms of litigation, we have handled a higher number of matters this year for our Members, ranging from defending anti-discrimination matters, unfair dismissals, bullying claims, general protection claims and Fair Work Ombudsman complaints. We have also had a high number of enterprise agreement matters and recently assisted one of our Members with a Safe-Work investigation following an incident in their workplace.
The good news is that most of these claims have settled for low amounts at the conciliation conference stage with a significant number of applicants bowing out before the conciliation commences. We also had an unfair dismissal matter that progressed to a hearing before a Member of the Fair Work Commission which was heard in September this year. Our TTIA solicitor, Janet Gilbert, managed the advocacy with skill and preparation and appeared before Commissioner Saunders. The Commissioner released his decision two weeks later, dismissing the matter; so, yet again, another good result for one of TTIA’s Members.
Unique industry resource
The Workplace Health and Safety Unit continues to be a unique industry resource widely utilised by Members. TTIA now does either 6 or 12 monthly risk assessments for a significant proportion of our Members throughout the country. The majority of our Members cannot afford to employ a full-time Safety Officer, so regular support and expertise from their industry association is essential in keeping on top of the changing work place health and safety landscape.
The feedback on TTIA’s WH&S unit is universally positive and the efforts and expertise of Ken Hocking, our Senior WHS Manager, is well known throughout the industry.
Contrary to a comment I was recently surprised to read, the vast majority of timber related industry associations by and large co-operate extremely well in our industry and largely focus on their area of expertise with purpose and skill. This approach I believe is preferable to duplicating existing industry services traditionally offered by specific Associations on the pretence of being the “biggest and the best”. I know that from a TTIA perspective we are proud to have numerous reciprocal service arrangements with many industry Associations and regularly consult with them on any potential areas of co-operation from political lobby support, staging conferences and holding joint industry dinners. This approach won’t change in the future.
Enough of the good, I don’t have time to talk about the bad and the ugly (nor I should as it’s Christmas and a time to be merry!) so, I will leave that until another year.
What I will say is it’s been a pleasure to serve our loyal Members again this year and contribute in some small way to assisting them in the smooth running of their organisation. I’ve said many times at numerous meetings and public forums that I think we have the best Membership in the business and I will continue to say it. The cross-section of the industry in terms of both sectors and States is what makes TTIA unique.
On a final note, the frantic pace of this year for the industry makes this Christmas and holiday season one that will be especially welcome. Therefore, my humble advice is to enjoy the time off with family and friends, try to forget about work for a few weeks and best wishes from all at TTIA to Members and readers of this industry publication. Look forward to chatting next year!