Bargaining fees banned from Federal Enterprise Agreements

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Bargaining fees banned from Federal Enterprise Agreements

The inclusion of bargaining fees in Federal Enterprise Agreements will be banned under new industrial relations laws passed by the Senate this afternoon.

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The inclusion of bargaining fees in Federal Enterprise Agreements will be banned under new industrial relations laws passed by the Senate this afternoon.
 
The new laws prohibit the inclusion of compulsory bargaining fee clauses in new federal agreements and void bargaining fee clauses in existing agreements. The laws also prohibit behaviour that compels workers to pay compulsory bargaining fees.
 
The new laws passed through the Senate after the Democrats dropped amendments that allowed the inclusion of bargaining fee clauses in federal agreements. The legislation commences 28 days after assent.
 
Australian Industry Group Chief Executive, Bob Herbert, welcomed the Senate’s decision to pass the bargaining fee laws. ‘The legislation will ensure that enterprise bargaining agreements cannot contain provisions which force non-union members to pay bargaining fees to unions,’ he said.
 
The legislation was introduced to resolve the type of issues and legal battles.
 
The unencumbered passage of the bargaining fees bill is a bright spot for the Government in a week that has seen other major planks of its industrial relations reforms rejected and criticised.
 
The explanatory memorandum to the Bill is available.
 
Unfair dismissal
 
On Monday night, the Senate refused to pass unfair dismissal laws that would have removed the rights of workers employed in small business with less than 20 employees to lodge unfair dismissal claims.
 
Secret ballots
 
On the same night, the Senate voted against the Government’s Secret Ballots Bill. The legislation would have required employees or unions to conduct secret ballots before applying to the Australian Industrial Commission to seek protected action.
 
Workplace agreements
 
A Melbourne University study released this week, has found that a lack of mandatory provisions in the Federal Workplace Relations Act had resulted in Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) focussing too much on short-term economic gains and failing to promote productive workplaces.
 
The study commissioned by the Victorian Department of Industrial Relations and conducted by Melbourne University’s Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law found that, IR laws and key regulatory institutions lacked the mandatory provisions and state guidance necessary to create productive workplaces through AWAs.
 
According to the study up to 50% of AWAs were concerned with making specific changes to award conditions, such as pay, working hours and duties, for short-term economic gain and not with major change to the employment system.
 
The study found the narrow focus had failed to promote flexible work arrangements, employee empowerment through consultation, performance-related reward systems, commitment to quality of service or product and loyalty to business, which are consistent with productive and innovative workplaces.
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