- Australian labour law
Australian labour law has had a unique development that distinguishes it from other English speaking jurisdictions.
In 1904 the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was passed mandating "
Conciliationand Arbitrationfor the Prevention and Settlement of Industrial Disputes extending beyond the Limits of any one State". In 2005, the WorkChoicesAct removed unfair dismissal laws, removed the "no disadvantage test", and made it possible for workers to submit their certified agreements directly to Workplace Authorityrather than going through the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. There were also clauses in WorkChoices that made it harder for workers to strike, made it easier for employers to force their employees onto individual workplace agreements rather than collective agreements, and banning clauses from workplace agreements which supported trade unions.
In the case of disputes involving a company in a single state either, a union or industrial organisation will rope them into a federal award by arguing that they are part of an industry in which a dispute extending beyond the limits of any one state exist. (This can be done by finding another company which did similar work and serving them with a log of claims concurrently or by virtue of a company's membership of a peak industry body.) Alternatively, if the company was not covered by a federal Award it would be covered by the various States' industrial relations systems, and disputes are conciliated or arbitrated by the state industrial relations commissions which would create an industry rule Award.
Since 1993 the Australian federal government has increasingly used the corporations power contained in s51 (20) [ [http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/general/constitution/par5cha1.htm Parliament of Australia: Senate: Constitution - Chapter 1 part V ] ] to enact labour law legislation. This power allows the federal parliament to make laws with respect to "trading and financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth", as well as 'foreign' corporations. The Coalition Government of
John Howardannounced plans in 2005 to further use this power to override State systems and unify the industrial relations system under the Federal umbrella. The proposed changes also included the introduction of an independent Australian Fair Pay Commission to set wages, and enhanced powers for the Office of the Employment Advocate and a corresponding lesser role for the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
WorkChoicescame into operation in 2006, it gave effective control of 85% of the Australian labour law system to the Federal Government. The constitutional validity of the legislation was challenged in the High Court of Australiain " New South Wales & Ors v Commonwealth" [ [http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/2006/52.html The full judgment is at Austlii "New South Wales & Ors v Commonwealth"] ] . The Court decided by a majority of 5-2 (Kirby and Callinan JJ dissenting) in November 2006 that all of the reforms were valid, The case was also a significant constitutional law decision in the area of Federal-state relations.
Australian Industrial Relations Commission
Australian Council of Trade Unions
Australian Industrial Relations Law Reform 2005
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