State wage case - decision reserved


State wage case - decision reserved

The Industrial Relations Commission of NSW yesterday reserved its decision in the 1999 state wage case.


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The Industrial Relations Commission of NSW yesterday reserved its decision in the 1999 state wage case. The Commission is considering whether to flow the AIRC's Safety Net Review - Wages - April 1999 decision (see HR Link 48/99) to state awards.

The NSW Industrial Relations Act 1996 requires the Commission, as soon as practicable after a national decision, to consider adoption of the national decision unless there are good reasons not to or the national decision is not consistent with the objects of the state Act. The state Act intends to preserve harmony between state and federal jurisdictions when federal decisions of this kind are handed down.

No party seriously opposed adopting the national decision and it seems likely that the Commission will flow the federal increases. The federal decision provided:

  • $12 on award rates up to $510 and $10 on award rates above $510;
  • allowances to increase by 2.6% (based on the 'key rate' of the level 3 clerk);
  • a minimum 12 months to elapse from the last increase before these increases; and
  • increases to be absorbed into over award payments.

It also seems likely that the federal wage principles will be adopted, but with modifications to reflect differences in the state Act.

The Commission is also considering an application by Labor Council to require state awards to contain an anti-discrimination clause. The clause is intended to alert parties to the award that the award must be applied in a non-discriminatory manner and that the dispute settlement must also be non-discriminatory. Labor Council's application follows from the AIRC's decision in its Third Safety Net Adjustment & Section 150A Review - October 1995 [Print M5600] which required award parties to insert a similar type of clause into federal awards when applying for the increases under that decision.

Hearings took place on 18 and 19 May in Newcastle, the first time a state wage case has been held outside Sydney. The Commission is likely to repeat this precedent and hold future cases outside Sydney.

Because the Actrequires the Commission to consider national decisions as soon as practicable, it is likely that it will hand down its decision within the next 3 - 4 weeks.

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