The Australian Workers Union welcomed todays decision by a full bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to include union rights in Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs).

The decision in Schefenacker Vision Systems Australia and two related appeals
(AIRC: PR956575) confirmed that trade union training leave, right of entry for
union officers and recognition of union delegates were all matters which could
be included in valid EBAs.

“This is a major victory for the AWU and other unions and will allow them to
continue to operate effectively to represent workers’ best interests,” AWU
National Secretary Bill Shorten said.

The case arose from the Electrolux High Court case last year to resolve
uncertainty about what issues could be included in certified EBAs on the basis
of being “matters pertaining to the employment relationship.”

The six issues in dispute were:

  • Union right of entry
  • Union training leave
  • Union recognition / recognition of delegates
  • Payroll deductions
  • Conditions of labour hire employees
  • Salary Sacrifice
  • Of the six issues in dispute, the AWU or other unions won the right to
    include in EBAs all matters except the payroll deduction provisions.

    “In making the decision the Commission rejected substantial portions of
    submissions from the Federal Government and the Australian Industry Group – the
    decision is a serious blow to the Howard Government’s attempts to wind back
    union rights,” Mr Shorten said.

    Wayne Hanson, Secretary of the AWU’s South Australian Branch, said: “In this
    decision the industrial umpire has recognised that unions have a proper role in
    forming and negotiating the agenda for workers and a rightful place in the
    enterprise bargaining process.”

    “The victory bodes well for the union movement as a prelude to the challenges
    which will inevitably occur should the Howard Government continue to propose and
    pass legislation aimed at winding back workers’ rights,” Mr Hanson said.