Enterprise Bargaining – Frequently Asked Questions
What are the requirements to make a new Enterprise Agreement?
A proposed agreement must be supported, through a ballot, by a majority of staff who vote, in order for it to be endorsed by the Fair Work Commission. The Commission must also be satisfied that the agreement complies with relevant aspects of the Fair Work Act 2009. All parties must negotiate agreements in good faith.
Isn’t CSIRO saying that a new Agreement must comply with the Government Bargaining Policy first?
Yes. That is what the Government wants. However, enterprise bargaining is conducted under the Fair Work Act 2009. The legal requirements for an agreement to be approved by the Fair Work Commission are different from policies regarding the content of the agreement adopted by CSIRO or the Government.
Has CSIRO been directed by Industry Minister Macfarlane to apply the Government Bargaining policy?
The Staff Association has been verbally advised that a direction letter has been sent to the CSIRO CEO. The Staff Association has requested a copy of the letter. The Staff Association has stated to CSIRO that it is our view that the Minister is only able to direct the Board of CSIRO, not the CEO. Importantly, CSIRO’s adoption of the Government Bargaining policy will set a regressive framework for CSIRO’s position, as it seeks to restrict bargaining outcomes on working conditions and rights. However as stated above, the policy is not a legislative requirement of bargaining under the Fair Work Act 2009.
Doesn’t the Government have control of what is contained in an agreement?
Ultimately what is contained in an agreement is what is agreed (or not agreed) between the bargaining parties, legally permissible and then ultimately approved through a vote of staff. The Government Bargaining policy contains self-imposed limitations outlining what the Government will accept in an agreement and requires complex approval process that involves Ministers ‘approving’ proposed new agreements, before they go out to a staff vote. This is how the Government is seeking to exert control over and achieve its agenda on bargaining.
Let’s be real… surely we can’t expect CSIRO Executive to stand up to the Government, can we?
Why not? CSIRO is a Commonwealth Authority with its own ‘independent’ Board and funding from non-Government as well as Government sources. The Board and the Executive of CSIRO have duties to represent the best interests of CSIRO, including the interests of CSIRO staff, not just the Government of the day. CSIRO Executive have a choice. Any new agreement needs the support of staff and staff do not have to accept the bargaining position that is currently being adopted by CSIRO. For negotiations to progress towards agreement, it is the Staff Association’s view that CSIRO’s current bargaining position, almost wholly based on the Government Bargaining policy, would need to change.
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