AIRC workload slumps after WorkChoices

News

AIRC workload slumps after WorkChoices

The workload of the AIRC has largely collapsed since the introduction of WorkChoices, with Commissioners handling 10% of the disputes they heard five years ago.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

The workload of the AIRC has largely collapsed since the introduction of WorkChoices, with Commissioners handling 10% of the disputes they heard five years ago.

The report shows that in 2006-07 the Commission heard 245 disputes, compared to 2342 in 2002-03. The report covers the first full year of operation of the Workplace Relations Amendment (WorkChoices) Act 2005.

Extension, variations and termination of agreements dropped from 8326 to 189 over the same period, while orders relating to industrial action reduced from 451 to 112.

However Full Bench matters (including appeals) rose from 534 to 876, and referrals of AWAs were up from 211 to 761.

Industrial action ‘very low’

The report says Industrial action, as measured by official statistics, remained at very low levels. This has been reflected in a decline in the number of applications for orders relating to industrial action, which were only 25% of the number just five years ago.

Bargaining activity has also been very low. The number of bargaining notices filed (1686) was well down on previous years. In 2005–06 there were over 6000 bargaining periods initiated, and in each of the two previous years around 5000.

Surge in bargaining activity expected

These figures suggest that there may be a surge in bargaining activity some time over the next 12 months.

A number of factors contributed to the relatively low level of bargaining. They included the fact that a large number of agreements were brought forward and renegotiated prior to the commencement of the WorkChoices legislation in March 2006.

Typically agreements now run for longer periods, with a two-year term very common, and a three-year term not uncommon. Many agreements will expire during the next reporting year and an increase in requests for assistance in agreement renewal discussions
is expected.

Termination of employment cases

Applications for relief in respect of termination of employment constituted a significant part of the Commission’s workload in 2006–07.

During the year 5173 applications were lodged (compared with 5758 in 2005–06). Of the 5173 applications lodged, 2125 (41%) alleged the termination of employment was harsh, unjust or unreasonable (i.e. unfair), 1050 (20%) alleged the termination of employment was unlawful and 1998 (39%) alleged the termination of employment was both unfair and unlawful.

While 5173 applications were lodged during 2006–07, some 5531 applications for relief in respect of termination of employment, including applications lodged in previous years, were finalised during the year. 4508 (81%) of these applications were
finalised at or prior to conciliation, 922 (17%) were finalised prior to arbitrated orders being issued and 101 (2%) were finalised with an arbitrated order.

Of the 5313 application 255 were dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, with 33 (52%) of the 255 dismissed because the employer had 100 employees or fewer, 29 (11%) because the employee had not served the qualifying period of employment, 26 (10%) because the employee resigned and 21 (8%) because genuine operational reasons were the reason for the termination of employment.

Related

Federal IR under Labor

How IR may look under Labor



 

Post details