Union deals emphasise employees representation: ADAM report


Union deals emphasise employees representation: ADAM report

The gap between average annualised wage increases delivered in union and non-union certified agreements has narrowed, according to the latest edition of ACIRRT's Agreements Database and Monitor.


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The gap between average annualised wage increases delivered in union and non-union certified agreements has narrowed, according to the latest edition of ACIRRT's Agreements Database and Monitor.


The September ADAM Report, reporting on the June 2001 quarter, says union agreements are now delivering AAWIs of 4.3%, compared with non-union deals offering 4.1%. This contrasts greatly with March quarter results, where union deals delivered 3.9% compared with 3.2% in non-union deals.

However union deals were substantially more likely to refer explicitly to employee representation, with one third of all union deals containing clauses stating the employer supports employees joining a union. The mining and construction industry agreements were most likely to contain such a clause (58% of all agreements), followed by retail and wholesale (50%) and other manufacturing agreements (one third).

These clauses can include positive promotion of union membership at recruitment, and strong recommendations that employees be union members, and often give exclusive coverage rights to one union.

Union collective agreements also provide a range of facilities to union members, delegates and officials, including: payroll deduction of union fees (19.2%), notice boards (7.6%), telephones (4.2%), office space (2.7%), photocopier (1.4%) and other equipment (4.1%).

Almost a quarter of union agreements allowed for workplace selection of union delegates, a quarter provided for time off for a delegate to attend to union duties, and most agreements which allow union officials to enter the workplace allow for this to be done during work and non-work times. Some 8% of union collective agreements also allow for delegates to call union meetings during work time.

And despite clauses giving preference to union members being contrary to the federal Workplace Relations Act and anti-discrimination laws, preference clauses are still being included in both federal and state registered agreements.

The controversial bargaining agents clause, which has been called a de facto union fee, had also been included in at least 1000 Electrical Trade Union agreements, covering 9000 employees. These agreements state that a bargaining agents' fee of $500 will be paid to the union. The communications union is also introducing it in its latest round of bargaining at Australia Post, and other unions are taking up the initiative, according to the report. A full bench of the federal Industrial Relations Commission has reserved its decision on whether these clauses breach freedom of association provisions.

While the report says the fact only half of all union deals explicitly refer to employee representation may seem low, it says such provisions may be included elsewhere, like HR material.

Average annual wage increases in certified agreements were up generally by 0.6% in the June quarter. Private sector agreements (4.3%) delivered higher outcomes than public sector agreements (3.5%), reversing the unusual blip noted in the last report, covering the March quarter.

The report found that individual performance was the main determinant for high wage increases. The range of AAWIs varied dramatically between industries, from a low of 3.3% in agriculture, community services and recreational and personal services, to a high of 4.5% in the mining and construction industries.

Increases in all currently operating Australian Workplace Agreements during the period were only 2.2%, although the report points out that only one fifth of those included a quantified wage increase during the term. Public sector AWAs provided a higher rise at 3.1% than private sector AWAs, at 1.9%.

The report is available from ACIRRT by subscription only. Contact ACIRRT via its website: http://www.econ.usyd.edu.au/acirrt 



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