Agreements: case notes 22/4/05


Agreements: case notes 22/4/05

Three cases here note: non-federal union's intervention blocked by AIRC; awards prevented change of shifts; and new systems of work in dispute.


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Three cases here note: non-federal union's intervention blocked by AIRC; awards prevented change of shifts; and new systems of work in dispute.

Non-federal union - AIRC blocks intervention

The AIRC found that there were no compelling reasons to allow a NSW registered union intervention rights in a federal matter.

Commissioner Richards concluded:

‘... the Full Bench in Re: Formula One provides the following guidance as to the exercise of the discretion to grant leave to intervene to a body that is an unregistered organisation of employees ...

"[c]ompelling reasons" would be required before leave to intervene is granted (in such an application) to an unregistered organisation of employees (‘a union not registered under the Act’) if, in the same circumstances, a registered organisation for the Act's purposes would have been excluded under s.43(2) of the Act; ...

The Commission is not persuaded in the circumstances that the SDA(NSW)'s submissions give rise to what the Full Bench described as "compelling reasons", which might justify it being granted leave to intervene in this application for certification.

The submissions by the SDA(NSW) in this matter, read along side of those of the Applicant, do not give cause for the Commission to conclude that the State employee association's intervention is made "compelling" for purposes of its own interests in the application and\or the proper completion of the process involved in the consideration of the application for certification in relation to s.170LT(1) of the Act. ...

In a different sense, while the SDA(NSW) has contested numerous of the submissions made on behalf of Adjac Holding Pty Ltd, and particularly so in relation to proper identification of the underpinning State award, the agitation of an issue or issues alone does not give cause for the Commission to exercise its discretion in SDA(NSW)'s favour, in the context in which the Full Bench has considered that discretion.'

Re Adjac Holdings Pty Ltd Certified Agreement 2004 - AIRC - Richards C - PR956834 - 29/03/05


Union intervention in question

Union intervention in certified agreement denied

Awards prevent change of shifts

Award provisions prevented Qantas from changing shifts unilaterally. The AIRC recommended that the parties cooperate to resolve the issue.

Senior Deputy President Lloyd concluded:

'The hours of work arrangements of both day and shift workers are not regulated by agreement, but rather awards.

The two awards that are be relied on are the Airline Operations (Qantas Airways Limited) Award 19996 and the Airline Operations (Qantas Airways Limited and National Union of Workers) Hours of Work Award 20007. ...

The drafting of the awards is not exemplary and some inconsistency exists between the various provisions. ...

The NUW relied on precedent decisions to support its contention that in interpreting industrial instruments the Commission cannot depart from the clear meaning of the words in an award provision.

At the same time it should be recognised that industrial instruments should not be interpreted in a vacuum divorced from industrial reality.

The High Court in a recent decision emphasised the need to avoid a narrow or pedantic approach to interpreting agreement or award provisions. ...

I find that the application of the relevant provisions of the 1999 and 2000 awards to the change of roster proposals requires Qantas to reach agreement with the majority of the employees affected or to pursue agreement with individual employees. ...

I recognise that this may frustrate the capacity of Qantas to implement operational changes in a timely manner to meet the demands of its business customers. . ...

For its part, Qantas shall seek to remain competitive and seek to ensure that job security for employees covered by this Agreement shall be maintained for the duration of this Agreement, and the NUW in turn commits to continue to cooperate on issues which improve the Company's productivity, efficiency and overall profitability." ...

Qantas has indicated that the new rosters will initially be introduced on a trial basis.

This could result in further refinement of new rosters during 2005. Such an approach should facilitate a timely agreement to new working arrangements.'

National Union of Workers v Qantas Airways Limited - AIRC - Lloyd SDP - 08/


Agreement allowed change of shifts

Shift change was not industrial action

New systems of work in dispute

The AIRC recommended that the postal union trial a new system and other changes and, to facilitate this, the union should be kept informed of relevant information by the employer.

Commissioner Foggo concluded:

' The applications allege disputes exist with Australia Post over the implementation of sort rates, performance assessment and review, swipe cards on manual modular frames (MMF) in Mail centres, Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) concerns, introduction of new system of work and task rotation. ...

The Commission strongly urges that the parties accept the following Recommendation.

1. That a trial comprising full implementation of all elements of the Manual Processing Improvement Initiative be implemented under the following conditions [including]:

  • There is a monthly report-back mechanism to the AIRC including a factual summary of the position at each facility allowing both Australia Post and the CEPU to raise concerns and seek assistance from the Commission if required.

  • Australia Post is prepared to not apply the disciplinary stage of the Performance Assessment and Review process for a period of six months from 7 April 2005. This does not mean that they will not continue to manage the job expectations or requirements of their staff working in the manual processing area.

  • Australia Post should provide to the union within 7 days, if possible, any videos, computation data and other information that is available to assist the Union in conducting their own review of the methodology and conclusions made ...

  • Following receipt of the additional information by the union, the Commission will convene a hearing on the scope of the trial regarding health and safety issues. ...

  • If any personal data of employees is collected, no individually identifying data will be reported or disclosed and that all matters will be treated as commercial-in-confidence.'

Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union of Australia v Australia Postal Corporation - AIRC - Foggo C - 08/

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