Appendix 3

Wages only one yardstick of Enterprise-Bargaining success

When employers and employees get together to organise their workplace, more is at stake than money.

The findings of a study of enterprise agreements by the Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Teaching released this month provoked headline such as "Unions do better from enterprise bargaining" and "Union wage deals deliver on pay, hours".

While it is indisputable that enterprise agreements negotiated by unions paid higher increases on average than non-union collective agreements, the enterprise bargaining process should not be viewed only in terms of what dollar outcomes are achieved for employees.

Of equal significance is that through this process, management and employees at a workplace can experience direct consultation with one another and can establish relationships of trust and confidence. Building a culture of loyalty and workplace harmony is an essential key to success in the modern workplace.

Employers and employees should take the opportunity to examine any binding award practices that are restrictive, and mould them to meet the workplace needs through extensive and co-operative consultation.

The election of the Howard Government and its introduction of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 have marked an emphasis upon individual rather than collective workplace relations. It is likely that direct employee participation in determining terms and conditions of employment at individual workplaces will rapidly increase (a trend suggested by the figures released this week by Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith).

Indeed, it has been since only 1994, with the passing of legislation by the Keating federal government that employees have been given the opportunity to engage in the bargaining process over terms and conditions of employment.

Quite clearly, it is expected there would be a steep learning curve for managers and employees at workplaces who have never had the opportunity for face-to-face bargaining. When moving to a decentralised and deregulated industrial relations system, it takes a long time for those at the workplace to become competent and confident in the enterprise-bargaining process.

So it comes as no surprise that enterprise agreements negotiated by unions achieved increases that are higher than non-union collective agreements. After all, unions have the experience - they have been the main negotiators of wages, terms and conditions of employment for more than 100 years in Australia.

Whether or not negotiations are directly with employees or through the union, employers must focus their attention on building workplace trust and harmony to achieve real productivity gains.

Overall, however, it is positive to see that gains are being achieved for employees who engage in enterprise bargaining, whether individually or through union representation.

Before engaging in the enterprise-bargaining process, organisations should consider carefully what they are seeking from the process and what measures they will employ to determine whether the agreement will be successful.

There is no point engaging in the enterprise-bargaining process if a party has not determined what it wants to achieve. Once the agreement has been implemented, it should also be reviewed regularly to see whether the objectives have been met. Consideration should be given to what measurements of success will be used.

Measurements commonly used include:

The bottom line is that enterprise bargaining provides workplaces with an opportunity to mould workplace practices and terms and conditions of employment to suit individual and workplace needs and requirements.

It also allows management and employees the opportunity to establish consultative mechanisms to examine the most effective ways of increasing productivity and efficiency at the workplace.

For it is only when there is increased productivity and efficiency that management is able to pay workers more.

If handled correctly, enterprise bargaining has the effect of focusing hearts and minds on striving for success, which will inevitably lead to greater benefits being enjoyed by all the workplace.

In industries where the enterprise-bargaining process remains adversarial, there may be short-term gains for employees in the form of higher wages but, in the long term, the competitiveness, stability and wellbeing of the workforce is likely to be sacrificed.

It is therefore imperative that the integrity of the enterprise bargaining process is maintained and that the focus on dollars is put in perspective.

 

Nick Ruskin is a partner and Amanda Birmingham is a solicitor with the industrial relations and employment law team at Phillips Fox in Melbourne.

 

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Appendix 5 (mostly of interest to Australia).

Award Information

There are very few awards that cover the classifications indicated in this survey, however the remnants of the Victorian award structure give some indication of a base rate of pay that may be appropriate to certain classifications. This classification applies to operational staff at the first point of customer contact, for example customer service or telemarketing staff. It has been drawn from information provided by the Department of Workplace Relations and Small Business

PROPERTY AND BUSINESS SERVICES INDUSTRY

Application (types of work covered by this sector) 

Classifications and Wage Rates  

Application 

The Commission declares an industry sector with effect on and from 11 May 1995 to be known as the Property and Business Services Sector which shall apply to any industry mainly engaged in renting or leasing assets or in providing a wide range of business services and which, subject to such inclusions and exclusions as the Commission may from time to time determine, incorporates: 

9. Marketing and Business Management Services which incorporates: 

9.1 Advertising services. 

9.2 Commercial Art and/or Display services. 

9.3 Market Research services. 

9.4 Business administrative services. 

9.5 Business management services. 

Classification and Wage Structure:

NOTE: To be read in conjunction with the Workplace Relations Act 1996. 

OPERATIVE DATE: From the first full pay period commencing on or after 16 December 1996.  The weekly rate shown below is based on a 38 hour week. 

Classification Weekly Hourly
Property & Business Services Employee Level 7 $398.24 $10.48

CLASSIFICATION DEFINITIONS  (inter alia)

Property & Business Services Employee Level 7 

Persons engaged in work performing and accountable for basic duties of a technical or administrative nature. 

NOTE

This Order shall apply from the first full pay period commencing on or after 1 July 1996 and shall replace Order E95/0184 and vary Order E95/0255 in so far as it relates to adult full-time employees. 

 

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