Agreement failed to consider young employees

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Agreement failed to consider young employees

Fair Work Australia has rejected a supermarket operator's proposed enterprise agreement, finding it had failed to take any steps to explain the proposals to its predominantly under-21 workforce.

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Fair Work Australia has rejected a supermarket operator's proposed enterprise agreement, finding it had failed to take any steps to explain the proposals to its predominantly under-21 workforce.
 
Campbell IGA Friendly Grocer applied to FWA to approve its enterprise agreement. If approved, it would apply to 23 employees in total, 17 of which are under 21 years of age.
 
Only 10 of the 23 employees voted in the ballot to approve the agreement and 9 voted in support of the agreement.
 
No more evidence provided
 
Commissioner Ian Cambridge asked the employer to explain to 'reasonable steps' it had taken to explain the agreement to its young workforce.
 
He said the company failed to provide any further evidence, except for a requirement to attend two meetings.
 
'It appeared that the apparent requirement to have the young employees attend at two staff meetings represented the extent to which the employer believed that it had addressed the particular circumstances and needs of the young employees,' he said.
 
The Commissioner noted there was no effort made to get parents involved in the agreement approval process either.
 
Undemocratic outcome
 
Cambridge also expressed concern that a 'significant number' of employees did not vote, such that there were 'sufficient numbers who did not vote to potentially change the outcome of the ballot'.
 
However, he accepted this was still in accordance with s182 of the Fair Work Act, as it represented the majority of the votes that were cast.
 
'In passing it should be noted that these provisions create significant potential for agreements to be made without majority support of the employees who are to be covered by the agreement and thus open the prospect for undemocratic outcomes,' he said.
 
Cambridge ruled the company had not provided a 'satisfactory basis' upon which to conclude that the agreement was 'genuinely agreed' to by the employees.
 
The application was dismissed.
 
Margin Brothers Pty Ltd T/A Campbell IGA Friendly Grocer [2010] FWA 2105 (15 March 2010) http://www.fwa.gov.au/decisionssigned/html/2010fwa2105.htm

 

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