E-job system a victim in NRMA patrol dispute

A third of the NRMA's patrol workforce is refusing to the use the group's computerised job allocation system amid union claims it is being used to track whether people are working or not.

A spokesman for the Australian Manufacturing and Workers Union (AMWU) said the workers were "stood down" by the NRMA for refusing to sign a document pledging to use an internal job allocation system.

The NRMA is operating in Sydney with just 27 per cent of its rostered road patrol officers after 41 per cent were sent home without pay on Tuesday for trying to implement a go-slow under industrial action.

The industrial action is part of a pay dispute with the NRMA's 420-strong group of roadside assistance officers embroiled in an enterprise bargaining battle.

The NRMA patrol workers had voted not to use a computerised job allocation system, which is built into their trucks, for two days a week.

A spokeswoman for the AMWU said refusal to use the system is part of an industrial strategy against the NRMA.

"The guys would like to go back to work, they don't have a problem with that, but they're not prepared to be forced to sign something which makes them agree to not take future industrial action," she said.

The patrol officers are seeking a 21 per cent pay increase over three years. The NRMA has offered 11 per cent over 13 months. The dispute, which has slowed response times to two hours, is creating long delays for those Sydney motorists who need roadside assistance.

The go-slow will be implemented each Sunday and Monday for an indefinite period.

With a third of patrol workers not using the job allocation system, the NRMA was forced to assign jobs through mobile phone contact.

NRMA's CAD (call and despatch) project director Larry Dean said delays to member services from such action would be "costly and time-consuming".

Meanwhile, an NRMA spokeswoman refuted claims by the AMWU that "NRMA was using the system to track whether people are working or not".

"It's in our best interests for our mobile force to be using the system in order to ensure good service levels for our members," she said.

The 18-year old job allocation system - MW800 - is an in-van mobile data computer built by Motorola. The unit is installed in 550 NRMA service vans and built to military specifications in order to withstand harsh conditions like heat, wind and rain, NRMA's Dean told Computerworld.

The computer has an Econz CAD system installed in it. Workers access the job allocation system through a touch-sensitive pad built onto the unit in their trucks. The CAD system shows where their next job is.

Dean said NRMA's patrol workforce is not rejecting the system due to any fault with it, but was under go-slow recommendations from the union because it was in enterprise bargaining negotiations with NRMA.

"They're not complaining in any way about the CAD system. It's working," he said.

An AMWU spokeswoman also confirmed there were "no problems with the job allocation system internally".

The job allocation system will be worth $10 million once it is enhanced with a new back-end application that activates GPS functionality, which Dean said is scheduled for early next year.

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