Delay in granting 2003 safety net endorsed - farm workers may have to wait

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Delay in granting 2003 safety net endorsed - farm workers may have to wait

The AIRC has provided guidelines to expedite applications from farmers seeking to delay the implementation of the 2003 Safety Net adjustment on economic hardship grounds.

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11/03

 

The AIRC has provided guidelines to expedite applications from farmers seeking to delay the implementation of the 2003 Safety Net adjustment on economic hardship grounds.

Background

This decision dealt with an application by the National Farmers' Federation on behalf of The NSW Farmers' (Industrial) Association, The Victorian Farmers Federation Industrial Association, TFGA Industrial Association and The Pastoralists and Graziers' Association of Western Australia (Incorporated) (referred to collectively as the NFF), to vary the Pastoral Industry Award 1998 (the Award) pursuant to s113 of the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

The application sought to implement a procedure that would automatically allow for economic incapacity to be recognised for those employer respondents to the Award who have been granted financial assistance pursuant to the Commonwealth's Exceptional Circumstances (EC) drought relief process.

The application was made pursuant to principle 12 of the current Statement of Principles governing Safety Net increases:

‘Any respondent or group of respondents to an award may apply to, temporarily or otherwise, reduce, postpone and/or phase-in the application of any increase in labour costs determined under this Statement of Principles on the ground of very serious or extreme economic adversity...'

The impact of an increase in labour costs on employment at the enterprise level 'is a significant factor to be taken into account'.

Conclusion

Vice-President Ross concluded:

'...that the NFF proposal has merit and I propose to give effect to it, albeit with some modifications.

'...Given the severity of the recent drought and its adverse impact on farmers I think it is appropriate to grant the relief I propose. I recognise that the drought has also had an adverse impact on the income of rural workers. But in my view the balance between the various competing considerations favours the implementation of a process of the type I have determined.

'The process I intend to implement is as follows:

1. An individual employer respondent to the Award who is an EC declared area and who is receiving ECRP, or a respondent employer organisation on behalf of such an employer, may make application pursuant to s113 of the WR Act to have that employer added to Schedule 1A of the Award.

2. The application will be in the form of a statutory declaration [contents were detailed] ...

3. A copy of the application must be served on the AWU and the employer organisations respondent to the Award.

4. Any award respondent may file an objection to the application, within 10 days of lodgment, and request a hearing.

5. If no objection is filed within 10 days of lodgment the Commission will determine the application on the basis of the material filed.

'...It will be apparent from the form of application I propose that the information required is considerably more extensive than that proposed by the NFF.

'The proposed form also includes an undertaking that the applicant will notify the Commission, the AWU and the employer organisations respondent to the Award, of any change in their circumstances which results in the loss of ECRP benefits, within two weeks of such loss.'

The Vice-President noted that the requirement to provide the additional information set out above addressed many of the concerns raised by the AWU.

See: NSW Farmers' (Industrial) Association and others re Pastoral Industry Award 1998 - AIRC - Ross VP - (19 November 2003).

 

 

 

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