AiG argues Emwest appeal claim in Federal Ct

News

AiG argues Emwest appeal claim in Federal Ct

A full bench of the Federal Court is today hearing the Australian Industry Group's application to be allowed to appeal Justice Susan Kenny's decision in the Emwest case, in which she ruled that workers were able to take protected industrial action on matters not included in a current enterprise agreement.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

 

A full bench of the Federal Court is today hearing the Australian Industry Group's application to be allowed to appeal Justice Susan Kenny's decision in the Emwest case, in which she ruled that workers were able to take protected industrial action on matters not included in a current enterprise agreement.

The AiG was not a party to the original decision handed down in February - indeed, Emwest itself has decided not to appeal. But AiG's national IR director Stephen Smith says the group will be arguing in Melbourne that in the interests of its 10,000 member companies, it should be able to appeal. The Federal Government has intervened in the case to support the AiG's right to appeal.

Smith told WorkplaceInfo that the decision had a significant potential impact on the AiG's member companies, and the group hoped to convince the bench - Justices Ray Finkelstein, Alan Goldberg and Peter Gray - that this entitled it to appeal the case.

In the Emwest case, workers - members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union - had taken action over redundancy provisions which were not included in the agreement, although there had been discussion and an initial intention around including them (see 2002).

Emwest sought relief from the action in the Federal Court, but Justice Kenny said the prohibition on industrial action under s170MN of the federal Workplace Relations Act was designed to make parties stick to bargains already struck. This intention would not be affected by allowing action to be taken over other matters, she said.

The AiG, alarmed at the prospect of what it regards as over-generous redundancy arrangements, is currently compiling the results of a member survey into the issue, to determine who is offering what.

Earlier this year, AiG's workplace relations director Peter Nolan told a conference that Justice Kenny's interpretation was 'pretty frightening', and said the group feared a flood of disputation on workers' entitlements across all industry sectors and affecting up to 2000 agreements (see 71/2002).

The group says this fear has now been borne out by recent disputes like that affecting the automotive industry in SA, where workers relied on the Emwest case to take action which brought the industry to a standstill (see 116 and 113/2002).

 

 
Post details