Pattern bargaining ‘definitely not allowed’, says Gillard

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Pattern bargaining ‘definitely not allowed’, says Gillard

Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard has given a categorical guarantee that Labor’s new IR legislation will not allow pattern bargaining.

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Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard has given a categorical guarantee that Labor’s new IR legislation will not allow pattern bargaining.
 
‘There are sections of the Bill that specifically and directly outlaw pattern bargaining,’ Gillard told ABC's AM program. ‘It is not part of Labor's system.’
 
Legal advice
 
Gillard’s response followed claims that the Opposition had legal advice that the Fair Work Bill would revive pattern bargaining.
 
Reports in the media said the advice claims multi-enterprise agreements meant for the low-paid would be ‘completely unrestricted’ and that a union could use these provisions to start bargaining across a whole industry.
 
‘Employers will not be entitled to refuse to recognise, or bargain with, a bargaining representative of the employees,’ the advice said.
 
‘When read in conjunction with the default bargaining provisions and civil remedy provisions, this means that genuine non-union agreements will only be possible in workplaces with no union members.'
 
Agreements enforced by unions
 
‘All other enterprise agreements are capable of applying to and being enforced by unions.’
 
However, Gillard defends her claim that pattern bargaining is not allowed by pointing out that in such negotiations between unions and employers over an agreement for low-paid workers, such as cleaners, no protected industrial action is allowed.
 
Unions picked off employers
 
In pattern bargaining as practiced in the early 1980s, unions picked off employers one by one with strikes and industrial bans to get them to agree to an industry-wide claim.
 
After a majority had agreed, or the largest employers had accepted the claim, then the rest soon followed.
 
With recourse to industrial action, unions will have to provide ‘sweeteners’ to employers to get them to agree.
 
Legal expert supports Gillard
 
This view was supported by legal expert John Bray Professor of Law, Andrew Stewart, at Adelaide University, who said conditions to be imposed on multi-employer bargaining for the low-paid effectively ruled out pattern bargaining.
 
Liberal Party MP Alby Shultz has said publicly that he will vote against the Bill unless it is changed, and WA MP Wilson Tuckey told a Party Room meeting it should be opposed.
 
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