A photo by Thomas Kelley. unsplash.com/photos/hHL08lF7IkcThe Aurizon decision handed down on 22 April 2015 and endorsed by a Full Federal Court on 3 September 2015 has created a viable option for employers needing to move away from legacy industrial arrangements that are bad for business.

The Aurizon decision was a watershed ruling because it swept away a longstanding presumption that agreements should not be terminated whilst bargaining negotiations for a new agreement are occurring (see our earlier blogs about this decision here). The mere fact the option exists has given employers more leverage in bargaining, as well as providing an opportunity to change arrangements other than through a union-resisted employee ballot for a new agreement.
Continue Reading Agreement terminations on the up – 5 union response strategies

In his book Bargaining with the Devil, Harvard Professor Richard Mnookin probes the challenges and options available when negotiating with “a devil” – anyone you perceive as a harmful adversary. The Devil Brad

“The devil” is usually a traditional “power-based” negotiator who is win/lose orientated, adopts extreme positions, makes small concessions, and uses threats as a key tactic to enhance negotiating leverage. Sound familiar?

Power or “positional-based” negotiations have dominated Australian workplace relations and remain a feature of enterprise bargaining – in a system which, to be fair, legitimises the threat and reality of industrial action.
Continue Reading Bargaining with the devil: in whose interest?

FinanceScott Morrison’s first Federal Budget announced the creation of the ‘Youth Jobs PaTH’ (Prepare-Trial-Hire) program – a program designed to encourage up to 120,000 unemployed youth into the workforce through skills training programs, paid internships and incentive payments for prospective employers. While further details will come to light over the course of the Federal Election campaign, employers who want to participate will need to look before they leap, to make sure their participation in the program doesn’t lead them, later on, to fall foul of the minimum wage provisions in awards and legislation. 
Continue Reading Are you on the right path with interns?

The Bargaining Coach rarely comments on decisions of courts or tribunals. Plenty of others do that. This is a rare exception.

Many of you will by now be aware of the Aurizon decision where a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission constituted by Vice President Watson, Deputy President Gostencnik and Commission Spencer terminated 12 enterprise agreements. Fundamentally, this decision recalibrates the approach taken to the termination of expired enterprise agreements.
Continue Reading The Bargaining Coach: FWC provides bargaining reality-check

Aurizon, previously a government owned entity, operates in the rail industry. The company had been bargaining in relation to numerous enterprise agreements. Part of the company’s bargaining platform was to be relieved of onerous restrictions on management, many of which were legacies of its public sector origins. The changes were resisted and the bargaining became intractable.

In an effort to overcome the legacy arrangements, Aurizon applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate the agreements.
Continue Reading Aurizon: Operating in perpetuity not in the public interest

  • An all too common feature of individual employee claims is to include salacious allegations designed to shame or embarrass management representatives.
  • In many cases, such allegations are unrelated to the issues to be determined in the case and are made without proper foundation.  Rather, their purpose is to extract a “shame or silence” premium in settlement negotiations.
  • Recent cases debunk popular “cost-free” perceptions about the Fair Work jurisdiction and reinforce that smear campaigns expose employees and their representatives to liability for legal costs of those required to defend them.
  • Careful positioning by employers can turn the tables on such campaigns by exposing baseless or irrelevant allegations for what they are – an attempt at leverage –  with costly consequences for those responsible.

If you would like more information, read on…
Continue Reading Recovering wasted costs and combatting the “trial by media” litigation strategy

Recent months have seen a number of prominent protests in Australian cities with visible union involvement. For example, since June, we have seen the CFMEU protesting outside the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, steelworkers protesting at the Port of Melbourne, and large union-organised protests against the federal budget in state capitals.
Continue Reading Protest action – employees walking off the job

As the year goes on, a relatively small number of cases involving the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) new power to make orders that bullying stop continue to trickle out. In the last month, two decisions have put the brakes on attempts by employees to use these powers outside of their intended area of operation.
Continue Reading No bullying orders if employment ended