Future of award reviews

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Future of award reviews

The award review process introduced by the former federal Labor government via s150A of the Industrial Relations Act 1988 is likely to continue under the federal Coalition Government, although subject to a number of important differences.

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The award review process introduced by the former federal Labor government via s150A of the Industrial Relations Act 1988is likely to continue under the federal Coalition Government, although subject to a number of important differences.

The Coalition stated in its pre-election industrial relations policy, "Better Pay for Better Work":

"We will require the AIRC to expedite and make more effective its existing review of awards and to remedy any deficiencies such as obsolete and unnecessarily detailed provisions."

In addition, the Coalition intends to streamline awards to a minimum of conditions, presently thought to number about 20. It is also understood that the proposed federal legislation will allow the award parties an 18 month interim period within which to ensure the award is in accordance with the new Act.

In the short term, this will mean a high level of activity for the award parties if they are to conform to the new legislation. However, if the evidence of the present review process is any guide that will not prove an easy task.

To take one example, the PKIU is presently seeking approval for the implementation of the third $8 safety net adjustment to apply to the Graphic Arts Award (Industrial Relations Commission Decision 1032/1993; [1993] 1032 IRCommA). The application is not subject to employer opposition. However, before the Commission can grant the increase, it must be satisfied that the parties have undertaken a review of the Award.

And yet, even after one full year of meetings involving union and employer representatives, Munro J felt called upon to state:

".. it is apparent that the parties have made reasonable progress in the pilot review. It does, I think, no justice to anyone to underestimate the difficulties in securing consensus about an award that has almost ubiquitous application throughout a very disparate range of establishments throughout Australia."

The PKIUs application for the third $8 safety net adjustment will be heard before Commissioner Peterson on 14 May 1996.

 
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