Work less, get paid the same

Work, rest, and play, in the right balance, are the secret to a happy life.


And the idea is to get as much play in as possible, right?

Victorian rail maintenance workers at V-Line and Bombardier reckon they might’ve got close to the magic formula by writing a 36-hour week into their latest round of agreements. They will work less, but get paid the same.

It means someone working an 8-hour day not already getting RDOs now gets an extra 26 days off a year.

For someone who’s already familiar with RDOs - it’s an extra 13 days off a year. If you’re doing eight days on and six off, it becomes seven days on and seven days off.

“Members are wrapt. It’s a huge step forward for a better work life balance,” said Bryan Evans, Infrastructure & Workshops Organiser in the Victorian Branch.

“This gives members more time at home with their families.

“In a typically anti-social industry, with a lot of shift work, especially at night, this gives workers up to an extra 26 days off a year to play on top of 5 weeks annual leave.”

So how does it work?

With a standard RDO system based on 38 hours workers complete a 40-hour week and their employer takes two hours and puts them in a ‘bank’.

After 8 hours are accrued the worker can take an RDO - typically once a month.

The same principle applies for the 36-hour week except four hours a week are accrued meaning workers get a day off every fortnight.

“What’s not to love?” asked Bryan Evans. “And it works for employers too - they get a happier, less fatigued workforce.”

No loss of pay

V-Line Infrastructure workers cemented the 36-hour week into their EA in December. They are the first heavy rail operator in Australia to do so.

To ensure no loss of pay when transitioning to a 36-hour week a one off 5.57 per cent base pay increase was applied.

This came on top of a further 2.5 per cent a year for four years.

A proposed new EA with members at Bombardier (V/Line Rolling stock maintenance) to be voted on in early January, also includes a 5.57 per cent increase in pay to make up for the new 36-hour week, and 3 per cent a year pay rise for four years.

The Victorian Branch Continues its march to roll out the 36-hour week across infrastructure with many contractors already adopting the 36-hour week model – including Laing O’Rourke, John Holland, Coleman Rail, McConnel Dowell, and Downer Infrastructure.

The 36-hour week was first pioneered in the Construction industry in Victoria in the early 2000s.

“It’s been 15 years between drinks for the rail industry,” said Bryan. “But all the sweeter for it.”