Meat industry long service included in relevant awards

Cases

Meat industry long service included in relevant awards

The AIRC has supported an earlier finding that the Federal Meat Industry (Long Service Leave) Award be set aside and that the long service leave provisions be included in the relevant meat industry awards.

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The AIRC has supported an earlier finding that the Federal Meat Industry (Long Service Leave) Award be set aside and that the long service leave provisions be included in the relevant meat industry awards.
 
Deputy President Leary agreed with the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU) that it was hard to make contingency provisions for employees and employers who were not represented by the union or the employer group. 
 
Background
 
In the initial case, the employer parties to the Federal Meat Industry (Long Service Leave) Award sought that the LSL Award be set aside and a long service leave provision be included in relevant awards which might remain following award simplification in the industry.
 
In July last year, the Commission determined that the LSL Award did not comply with the requirements of s94 or s298A (where relevant) of the Federal Workplace Relations Act 1996 and should be set aside. This would continue the objective in the industry to reduce the number of awards. 
 
The Commission agreed with the AMIEU submission that there was no requirement in the Act that the same long service leave provision should apply to all employees in an industry.
 
However, it said the current LSL Award provided in some cases a lesser provision for AMIEU members than for non-members. This was a contravention of s298K(1)(e) and s298A(b) which ensures that 'employers, employees and independent contractors are not discriminated against or victimised because they are, or are not, members or officers of industrial associations.'
 
The AMIEU said that setting aside the LSL Award and the consequential variation to the 2000 Award could affect employees who are now entitled to benefits in excess of that provided in the LSL Award. 
 
In respect of this, the Commission relisted the matter to consider how best to maintain excess benefits. Likewise, employees subject to awards other than the 2000 Award needed to be considered and protected.
 
Findings
 
Deputy President Leary said neither the AMIEU nor the employer’s group, the National Meat Association of Australia (NMAA), could identify employees who would be disadvantaged by not being able to access an entitlement in excess of that prescribed by the LSL Award. 
 
She said that if there was any disadvantage it would most likely be for employees not members of the AMIEU and employed by an employer not a member of the NMAA, as such the parties to the conference would not be able to provide any identification.
 
The Deputy President said that the LSL Award provided that long service leave accrued at the rate of 13 weeks for 15 years of continuous and unbroken service. When looking at any savings provisions, if appropriate, it was only the contingency for an employee who was entitled to take a period of that leave or receive a payment on termination prior to meeting the LSL Award qualifying period, that could be saved. 
 
That contingency however, only became an entitlement if, at the time the employee sought to take long service leave, the employee was not a member of the AMIEU and the employer was not a member of the NMAA.
 
Accordingly, the Deputy President agreed with the union that it was not possible to preserve a contingency that was, in fact, unknown. 
 
She ordered the LSL Award should be set aside for the reasons espoused in the decision in the first case and a long service leave clause, as proposed in that decision, be inserted into the remaining meat industry awards. The clause maintained the current long service leave entitlement of 13 weeks for 15 years of continuous service, but removed the membership requirements.
 
Where enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs) provide a long service leave entitlement by reference to the LSL Award, but presumably the membership requirements do not apply, those entitlements would remain unchanged and future EBAs should include either the entitlement prescribed in full or reference to the applicable award. The orders remain in force for a period of six months.
 
See: The Federal Meat Industry (Long Service Leave) Award, 1996, AIRC (Leary C) - PR928374 - (4 March 2003). 
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