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Good Faith Bargaining in Australia A Comeback for Old Players? . Geoff McGill Visiting Industry Scholar WRC , Sydney University WA IR Society Convention, Oct 2009. The Wider Context- a bigger playing field. .

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good faith bargaining in australia a comeback for old players

Good Faith Bargaining in AustraliaA Comeback for Old Players?

Geoff McGill

Visiting Industry Scholar

WRC , Sydney University

WA IR Society Convention,

Oct 2009.

the wider context a bigger playing field
The Wider Context- a bigger playing field.
  • Transformation of industrial relations and the labour market since 1970s;
  • Benefits evident in resilience of economy and the labour market in response to GFC;
  • Labour market adjustment via timely and decentralised decisions at company and workplace level especially on hours of work;
  • Aggressive fiscal stimulus without fear of wage inflation;
  • National union and employer groups played no role; federal industrial tribunal no longer an arm of economic policy.
behind the transformation
Behind the Transformation
  • Opening of the Australian economy and micro economic reform – economic reform drives labour market reform;
  • Deliberate and sustained policy of decentralisation of the IR and wage determination system by Keating and Howard;
  • Shift to enterprise bargaining supported by union and business leaders;
  • But shift occurred during a period of long term decline in union bargaining power
trade union membership
Trade Union Membership

Industrial Relations Reform Act,1993.

Workplace Relations Act,1996

airc dispute notifications
AIRC – Dispute Notifications

Source: AIRC Annual Reports

a come back for old players
A come back for old players?

Maybe?.....but

there’s a lot of ground to catch up, and

the rules have changed!

gfb the wa form guide
GFB- the WA “form guide”
  • Legislation designed to give unions a boost;
  • Some wins in the early rounds;
  • Employers started to play at another ground;
  • Still see some good games in the local public sector comp.
rules of gfb game in wa act
Rules of GFB game in WA Act
  • WA Labour Relations Reform Act 2002
    • Restoring primacy of collective agreements
    • GFB to encourage open and honest negotiations
  • General duty to bargain in good faith
  • Specific provisions require application by one or both parties
  • Not an exclusive code
  • No scope for protected industrial action
  • Consistent with long standing practice of the tribunal to support fair and orderly negotiations
highlights from the early rounds
Highlights from the early rounds
  • Hanssen Pty Ltd vs CFMEU
  • Melville Motors vs Metal Workers’ Union
  • Sealanes vs Shop Assistants’ and others
match summary
Match Summary
  • Private Sector
  • Reassertion of union role
  • Strong employer resistance
  • Enterprise agreement determined by tribunal
  • Pyrrhic victory for unions
  • AWA escape route
  • Erosion of WA jurisdiction
highlights from public sector comp
Highlights from Public Sector Comp
  • CSA dispute on service wide wages and conditions in 2003
  • PTA and Rail, Tram and Bus Union
  • WA Police Union
  • Teachers’ Union
  • Firefighters’ Union
match summary1
Match Summary
  • Protracted negotiations
  • Threat of disruption to services to the community
  • Employer application to prevent action and invoke GFB provisions
  • GFB duty in practice?
  • Declaration that bargaining has ended
  • Impact of application for enterprise order
  • Wider public interest and political context always important
wa season in review
WA Season in Review
  • GFB nests within significant powers of WAIRC on conciliation and compulsory arbitration
  • No scope for protected industrial action
  • GFB matters often overlap with applications under S44 seeking orders re industrial action
  • WAIRA not a fully developed system of enterprise bargaining
national gfb match preview
National GFB –Match Preview
  • Expect unions to start aggressively to unsettle opponents;
  • Claims unions have been supplied steroids;
  • Rule book could become extensive and complex;
  • Ref will blow the whistle early until game settles down;
  • “Thunderdome” format- no AWA escape route;
  • Remember, it’s a world game now.
gfb national rules
GFB National Rules

FWA s 228

Bargaining representatives must meet the good faith bargaining

requirements

(1) The following are the good faith bargaining requirementsthat a

bargaining representative for a proposed enterprise agreement must

meet:

(a) attending, and participating in, meetings at reasonable times;

(b) disclosing relevant information (other than confidential or

commercially sensitive information) in a timely manner;

(c) responding to proposals made by other bargaining

representatives for the agreement in a timely manner;

(d) giving genuine consideration to the proposals of other

bargaining representatives for the agreement, and giving

reasons for the bargaining representative’s responses to those

proposals;

(e) refraining from capricious or unfair conduct that undermines

freedom of association or collective bargaining.

(f) recognising and bargaining with the other bargaining

representatives for the agreement

gfb national rules1
GFB National Rules

S 228

(2) The good faith bargaining requirements do not require:

(a) a bargaining representative to make concessions during bargaining for the agreement; or

(b) a bargaining representative to reach agreement.

first qtr match comments
First Qtr Match Comments
  • Lot’s of action, some unions trying to set their own rules on GFB and relevant information;
  • Key role for tribunal - players looking for consistency from the ref;
  • Match preparation essential;
  • Beware of imports!
  • GFB not so new for older players;
  • Game pattern likely to be different.
a come back for old players1
A come back for old players?

Maybe?.....but the rules have changed!

  • Impact of a generation of economic reform and structural change in economy irreversible.
  • Same forces rule out any turn around in union density.
  • Role and status of the federal industrial tribunal has fundamentally changed.

Nonetheless the old players have still sign up for another season!!