‘Bring back arbitration’, say WA unions

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‘Bring back arbitration’, say WA unions

The UnionsWA submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Fair Work Bill urges the Government to allow any matters to be included in enterprise agreements, not just matters pertaining to the employer–employee relationship, and wants full arbitration.

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The UnionsWA submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Fair Work Bill urges the Government to allow any matters to be included in enterprise agreements, not just matters pertaining to the employer–employee relationship, and wants full arbitration.
 
The submission says that some elements of the Bill do not go far enough in restoring the balance for employees.
 
Areas needing work
 
Areas that UnionsWA says still need work include:
  • the ability for AWAs to continue past their expiry date (which will be contained in future transitional legislation)
  • limits to assistance of Fair Work Australia in the bargaining process
  • Fair Work Australia and federal Minister have the power to cease protected industrial action
  • exclusions from unfair dismissal laws — including small business, trainees and employees earning over $100,000
  • limiting the content of agreements
  • no award coverage for employees earning more than $100,000.
 
In its submission, UnionsWA urges that the legislation be changed so that:
  • there should be no continuation of AWAs past their nominated expiry date
  • employers should not have the prerogative to nominate the meeting room for right-of-entry permit holders to conduct discussions or interviews. (Permit holders should be entitled to hold discussions or interviews with eligible workers in the lunch-room and/or usual break area.)
  • the exemption from right of entry (for discussion purposes) for employers with conscientious objection certificates should be removed
  • the powers for the FWA to make a determination on agreements within the low paid bargaining stream should be extended to all agreements — in other words, a return to full arbitration where disputes cannot be resolved by the parties
  • the exclusion of high income earners from the unfair dismissal process should be removed. (UnionsWA says highly paid resources sector workers have been dismissed for raising safety concerns, pay issues or challenging roster arrangements.)
  • the small business provision that workers have a 12-month probation period before qualifying for unfair dismissal provisions be abolished, with all employees instead having a probationary period of six months
  • the existing 21 days for lodging an unfair dismissal application should be retained, and not reduced to seven days as under the Bill.
  • judgement on matters that pertain to the employment relationship should be left up to the parties negotiating an agreement to decide. (All matters agreed between the parties (provided they are not criminal or contradictory to other laws) should be enforceable.)
  • terms in agreements that provide for better entitlements on unfair dismissal and right of entry should not be considered unlawful. (Existing terms that prevent the downgrading of unfair dismissal provisions should be retained.)
  • in order to clarify the distinction of employee and independent contractor, the Fair Work Bill should contain a comprehensive definition of ‘employee’.
 
UnionsWA said it supports the ACTU submission to the Senate Inquiry and UnionWA's submission should be read in conjunction with it.
 
Details relating to the Senate inquiry are available online
 
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