Proposed reforms to Commonwealth industrial relations laws would create more opportunities for collective bargaining to occur on a multi-employer basis, rather than being limited solely to individual workplaces or enterprises. Business groups have attacked this proposal as a dramatic change that would supposedly spark widespread work stoppages and industrial chaos.
But as our Policy Director Fiona Macdonald argues in this new commentary for The Conversation, multi-employer bargaining is already allowed under various existing provisions of the Fair Work Act. The problem is that those provisions do not work. For example, the low-paid bargaining stream in the Fair Work Act has yet to result in a single multi-employer agreement, due to its stringent conditions and inconsistent application by the Fair Work Commission.
Dr Macdonald argues that reforming these multi-employer bargaining streams so they can actually work will be an important part of any strategy to revitalise stagnant wages in Australia.
For more details on the failure of existing multi-employer bargaining streams, and core principles for a stronger bargaining system, please also see the Centre for Future Work’s submission to the Senate inquiry on the Secure Jobs, Better Wages reform package (co-authord by Dr Macdonald, Jim Stanford, and Lily Raynes).