Latest certified agreements figures: AIRC report

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Latest certified agreements figures: AIRC report

The total number of agreements certified in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission increased by a significant 30% in the 2000-01 reporting year, but the average processing time for the most common form of agreement increased by 50%, according to the AIRC's 2000-01 Annual Report.

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The total number of agreements certified in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission increased by a significant 30% in the 2000-01 reporting year, but the average processing time for the most common form of agreement increased by 50%, according to the AIRC's 2000-01 Annual Report.

The total number of certified agreements rose to 7,316 in 2000-01, compared to just 5,539 agreements in 1999-00. The just-released Annual Report cites the big rise in the number of certified agreements as one of the main reasons for the increase in processing time for s.170LJ agreements - up from an average of 29 days in 1999-00, to 45 days in 2000-01.

The processing time measures the number of days between lodgement and completion. For s.170LJ agreements, or 'union' agreements, the number of days is comparable to the 1997-98 levels of 47 days (in 1998-99 the figure was 34 days).

In contrast, the figures for s.170LK agreements - 'agreements with employees' - were somewhat more consistent. They have dropped in recent years from 34 days in 1998-99, to 28 days (1999-00) and 30 days (2000-01).

The 'union', or s.170LJ agreements, are still by far the most common form of agreements certified by the Commission. As a proportion of 'all' agreements certified by the commission they have actually increased over the past three reporting periods, up from 65% (1998-99) and 64% (1999-00) to 70% of all agreements certified in 2000-01. The total number of s.170LJ agreements has also increased substantially, up from 2,480 in 1997-98, compared to 5,147 in 2000-01.

In contrast, the figures for s.170LK agreements - agreements with employees - indicate that these sorts of agreements represented just 12.4 % of all those certified in 2000-01, 14% in 1999-00 and 11% in 1998-99.

Garry Brack, chief executive officer of Employers' First, dismissed any concerns about the apparent trend for greater numbers of LJ agreements and their increase as a proportion of all agreements. He said with the 'decrease in straight award coverage', it is not surprising to see a shift to 'agreements that still retain some trade union coverage'.

He refused to be drawn on whether or not, after five years, he believed that the Workplace Relations Act 1996 had successfully achieved its key aims. However he did say that the 'success or otherwise [of the Act and individual agreements] comes down to each industry, the role of unions in that industry and the size of the business.

'The stronger the involvement of the union and the stronger the pattern [bargain]' the less likely it is that agreements will incorporate flexibilities and other features to meet each business's particular needs, he said.

Other news and figures published in the annual report show that:

  • Dispute notifications (s.99) continue to trend downwards, with a total of 2,598 in 2000-01, compared to 2,679 (1999-00), 2,836 (1998-99), 3,273 (1997-98) and 3,696 (1996-97).
  • Termination of employment applications has remained fairly steady over the previous three years. In 2000-01 there were 8,109 applications and the commission made decisions in 781 cases.
  • Some 73% of valid termination of employment claims were settled by conciliation, compared to 72% (1999-00), 74% (1998-99), 69% (1997-98), 58% (1996-97) and 53% (1995-96).
  • By far the vast majority of termination of employment applications were made in Victoria, where 4,791 applications, or 59% of applications, were initiated.
  • Full Bench matters decreased significantly, from 434 in 1999-00 to just 249 in 2000-01 - the lowest number since the introduction of the Workplace Relations Act 1996. The report says that this 'may indicate that a number of issues of law and procedure which arose in the course of implementing the Workplace Relations Act 1996 have now been resolved'.
  • The award simplification process was 75% complete as of 30 June 2001. Some 3,221 federal awards originally required review: 2,412 of those awards had been reviewed and 809 were undergoing simplification by the end of the reporting period.
  • Referral of Australian Workplace Agreements to the Commission (s.170VPB) was one of the few matters to show a significant drop compared to previous years. The number of cases in 2000-01 was 195, compared to 615 in 1999-00.
  • In contrast, the number of s.170MW cases (suspension or termination of bargaining period) rose from 87 (1999-00) to 227 (2000-01).

Copies of the report are now available on the Commission's website, www.airc.gov.au 

 

 

 
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