Industrial Relations Pailin, Daphne, Harry, Lachlan and Genevieve
Breakdown in Negotiations When unions and employers negotiate, both sides try to exert pressure on the other to force them to back down These are tactics used by each party to gain the upper hand. This includes: Employee tactics -Work to rule -Strike -Demarcation dispute - Secondary boycotts Employer tactics -Stand-down -Lock-out
Strikes • Occurs when employees refuse to perform their normal duties. • 2 forms of strikes: • Rolling strikes- happens for part of the day on different days • Full day strike • The aim is to force the employer to negotiate by stopping production->which reduces the business income. • Under international law e.g the international covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights- workers have the rights to strike. • However, the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cwlth) only allow strikes under limited circumstances
Strikes • WorkChoices changes the rights workers have had to strike: • Required to give notice to employers • Voting must be held by secret ballot • These changes ensure that the employers and public will not be affected by random lightning strikes(strikes with no notice)
Case study: Ansett Industries (Operations) Pty Ltd v. Australian Federation of Air Pilots (1990) After a dispute over wages and conditions- AFAP(represents commercial pilots) – issued a directive for pilots to fly only between 9 a.m to 5 p.m Caused disruption to Ansett’s operations-Ansett’s pilots were required to fly outside these hours Refused AFAP’s rights to negotiate, then applied to the Industrial Relations Tribunals- cancellation of existing awards and agreements The remaining pilots all resigned the following day Ansett went to take action against AFAP-Victorian Supreme Court The argument was: -Pilots had a right to strike -Should not be liable for any loses incurred by the airline The court held that there was no implied right in their award. AFAP- tort of interference and unlawfully interfered with Ansett’s business Damages were awarded in favour of Ansett
Stand-Downs When a worker’s labour is not required for short period Occurs as the result of industrial action Only legal if conducted in accordance with an award or agreement or have the approval of the appropriate authority WorkChoices- stand-downs permitted if the business has no work
Lock-Outs Once a common tactics used by employers Consists of locking up the workplace and denying the worker’s entry Much less common now, illegal in NSW
Demarcation Disputes Demarcation-The union practice of allocating jobs to specific unions. Demarcation disputes- which workers should be doing what work Disputes have little to do with employer- more with rival unions fighting over members’ rights to carry out certain tasks.
Work to Rule When workers only do the tasks specifically set out in their job description Work is restricted to the min. hours required- no overtime work Intention- to demonstrate how much work the employees do beyond min. requirements
Secondary Boycotts Putting pressure on a third-party employer- boycott the goods/services of the employer involved in the dispute Unlawful under Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cwlth)
Industrial Dispute A dispute between an employee and an employer regarding their work relationship. This was established in Coldham and Other Australian Welfare Union (1989).
Role of the Union Support members who have been unfairly dismissed Ensure safety standards are upheld Assist those who have been discriminated against The registration of unions allows them to gain legal standing and thus enables them to run democratically and cooperate with government bodies This is covered in the Workplace Relations Act 1996
Shop Floor Meetings Held during work hours in the premise of the workplace Generally called to discuss workers grievances and to keep members informed of developments Unionised workplaces have representatives that liaise between union leadership and employees
Industry Log of Claims A formal way of bringing employee concerns to the employer Initiates industrial action or negotiation Industrial arbitration cannot take place unless a log of claims has been submitted
Institutional Structures and Powers New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission (NSWIRC) can order an employee to cease industrial action and order an employer to reinstate workers who have been dismissed Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) may inspect workplace premises or interview employees about possible breaches of awards. The AIRC’s role was reduced when a majority of corporations moved to the federal system, covered by the exclusive corporations powers (s. 51xx) Inspectors (appointed by the NSWIR Act 1996) of the Office of Workplace Services have powers of entry which allows them to inspect workplaces and employees to determine if an act has been carried out
Commonwealth and State Powers The Commonwealth has the power to make laws regarding industrial disputes (under section 51 (xxxv) of the Constitution Work choices and High Court rulings have reduced residual powers covering industrial relations, this was challenged in the case NSW v. Commonwealth 2006 however the High Court ruled that work choices were a valid commonwealth law Only 15% of workers are covered by State systems
Reform Until 2006, industrial relations was broadly covered by state and federal acts With the introduction of WorkChoices, a majority of the AIRC’s arbitration power was removed and their role was to then simplify and modernize awards The Fair Work Australia Act 2009 was introduced which developed the National Workplace Relations Tribunal and replaced the AIRC - This is an attempt to unify the national workplace system
Fairwork Australia Ballot System Protected ballots authorize industrial action. Must be undertaken prior to industrial action, unless action is in response to action from another party’s enterprise bargaining. Fairwork Australia must approve a ballot application for it to be permissible. Over 50% of relevant employees must agree to the ballot for it to be effective and for the specified action to take place.
Conciliation and Arbitration Functions of industrial commissioners –specific in their adjudication of cases which enables them to develop expertise and experience in dealing with specific issues. The powers of the commissioners include the power to: set working hours, investigate work places and so forth.
Compulsory conferences are called upon when a commissioner suspects information is lacking from an investigation before making a judgment The role of a conference is to gather information on the nature of a dispute and to determine exactly what each side wants Fines and Deregistration are given by commissioners. This power is usually exercised after a union has failed to abide by the instructions of a commissioner Fines are imposed as a result of boycotts or breaches of an award Deregistration (eliminating a unions legal status and thus standing in court) is an extreme measure and is usually only used if a union continually disregards arbitration rulings
Role of the Courts • 1956 High Court held no Commonwealth body should have both judicial + legislative power. • As a result; Australian Industrial Relations Commission legislates the awards system, but the Federal Court has responsibility.
Responsibility of the Federal Court Federal Court has power to resolve disputes lodged by individuals or unions surrounding unlawful termination. Federal Court has two key roles; as a supervisor of the Commissioners and as an adjudicator in matters which the courts have exclusive powers (e.g. when a union/ employer is sued). As a supervisor the Federal Court ensures tribunals do not exceed their power or jurisdiction.