Employees' consent to enterprise agreements must be genuine

Cases

Employees' consent to enterprise agreements must be genuine

The AIRC has ruled that the necessary step of obtaining the consent of the majority of employees to federal enterprise agreements must be achieved after the employees have been fully informed of the implications of giving consent.

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The AIRC has ruled that the necessary step of obtaining the consent of the majority of employees to federal enterprise agreements must be achieved after the employees have been fully informed of the implications of giving consent.
 
A ballot involving a number of different sites operated by a large Victorian construction company (Grocon) had taken place.The CFMEU asserted that two employees who voted for their particular agreement were not told that other employees had different ballot papers and what would happen if only some of the agreements were approved.
 
Vice-President Ross accepted the CFMEU's submissions in this regard. He was satisfied that the omitted information might reasonably be expected to have affected the voters. More particularly, the two employees concerned who complained to the AIRC may not have voted for the agreement if they had been told that they could be the only Grocon employees bound by these conditions while other Grocon employees might end up with different conditions.
 
Informed or genuine consent means that the employer must put the proposed agreement before the employees with the obvious implications and consequences explained. Employees should have been made aware that their colleagues' designated employers were different, and that they were voting on different deals.
 
'Genuine' approval implies that the consent of the employees was informed and that they were advised of the consequences of giving their approval to the agreement.
 
Background
 
This application was for the only s170LK agreement that was voted for by the employees - ie between a holding company Grocon Pty Ltd and two management employees. Other ballots involving other Grocon companies were rejected by the employees.
 
Conclusion
 
Vice-President Ross concluded that the vote of the two employees of Grocon Pty Ltd in favour of the Agreement was not genuine within the meaning of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 because their consent was not informed and they were not advised of the consequences of their vote. In dismissing the application for certification, the vice-president stated that the agreement was not validly made pursuant to s.170LK.
 
See: Grocon Pty Ltd re Grocon Pty Ltd Enterprise Agreement (Victoria) - AIRC (Ross VP) - PR927672 - 12 February 2003.
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