As what can only be described as yet another blow to employers, the Federal Court has upheld the right for unions to take legal strike action before any bargaining has taken place.
Three Federal court judges last week found that no union was obliged to show any employee support or meet any other test if employers refused to engage in bargaining.
Needless to say the Union movement has heralded the decision as a landmark victory for workers rights. Now whilst most IR practitioners acknowledge the rights of unions to represent their members, to now allow unions to demonise the legislation beyond its original intent, makes a mockery of our Industrial Relations system.
Several key unions have already acknowledged that they intend to "punish" employers who refuse to bargain with them.
So what can employers do to stop this continued wave of attacks?
1. Establish bargaining frameworks well in advance of any intended commencement of bargaining. This includes new agreements and re=negotiation of existing.
2. Establish a robust communications strategy to directly engage employees. This is critical to the success of any bargaining strategy.
3. Establish your own majority support within your workforce. Once again this is crucial when faced with a over-zealous bargaining representative.
4. Negotiate and seek mutual agreement on negotiation protocols. Whilst none of these protocols can seek to remove any legislative right or requirement, it can establish a "common ground" when dealing with multiple bargaining representatives.
The right to strike before bargaining will have far reaching impact across the business sector, and indeed across the economy. And whilst Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten has said that the government would consider all implications of any decision, there had been extensive public discussion about the issue, and that the Fair Work Act review report would be out next month.
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