A union can be involved on multiple levels to help negotiate an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA). In most cases, the role of the union will be based on the employees and their decision to appoint an individual or organisation who they would like to represent them in the bargaining process. The Fair Work Commission requires that employees are individually notified to choose their bargaining representative.
In a Greenfields Agreement, an employer makes an EBA directly with one or more employee organisations such as a union. The union, however, needs to be chosen as the bargaining representative of the employee who will inevitably be a party to the agreement.
Apart from the Greenfields Agreement, unions are not normally a party to an EBA. They can, however, be appointed as a bargaining representative. This occurs if a union member whose employment arrangement will be affected by an EBA chooses the union as their bargaining representative. Generally, unions are selected as the default bargaining representative of their members.
An employer cannot choose the unions with which they bargain, meaning that all unions need to be considered throughout the bargaining process. If an employer fails to consider a particular union’s bargaining stance, they may be required to follow bargaining orders from the Fair Work Commission.
When it comes to businesses that have low paid workers, a union can request from the Fair Work Commission that they receive a low-paid authorisation. The union will only be approved as a bargaining representative after the consideration of a number of factors including whether:
- The low-paid authorisation is in the public interest;
- The employees and employers face difficulties in the bargaining process; and
- The bargaining position of both parties is significantly unequal.
If the low-paid authorisation is granted, unions can become involved in the process of bargaining on behalf of the workers.
If a bargaining dispute arises, the union who has been chosen can get involved on behalf of their members. Unions can initiate the process for the Fair Work Commission to order a Bargaining Order. A Bargaining Order will outline the steps that need to be taken in order for the dispute to be rectified. If a bargaining order is not followed, a penalty may be issued.
There are various ways in which the enterprise bargaining agreement process can have the involvement of a trade union. Like with most bargaining representatives, unions need to be able to address the concerns of the members they are representing. If you are a trade union in the process of bargaining an EBA for your clients, speak to a lawyer about drafting amendments or about the various aspects of your representational role during the bargaining process.
If you are an employee getting an EBA processed, make sure you know your rights and confirm that your concerns are being addressed by the union during the negotiation.
For more information, get in touch with LegalVision’s employment lawyers on 1300 544 755.