In this episode of the IR Simplified Podcast I dispel some of the most common myths surrounding industrial relations. * Industrial Relations is all about fighting with unions * The Fair Work Act is the enemy of business * Without a degree you are wasting your time * The unions are out to shut businesses … Read more
There is a never ending battle for supremacy in industrial relations in Australia.
On one side of the battle ground you have the employer associations screaming at the government that Australia’s restrictive workplace legislation is killing productivity, blowing out wages, and restricting growth.
They also claim that the current Right of Entry provisions give the unions virtually unrestricted access to their business.
On the other side are the employee groups, or trade unions, and they are screaming the opposite. The legislation doesn’t go far enough to protect employees from unscrupulous employers or enshrine job security. And that the Right of Entry provisions are too restrictive and don’t allow permit holders quick access to workplaces to protect members when things go bad.
Both sides claim that only by joining their organisation will you be able to protect yourself from the evil that will soon come.
And yet throughout all of this, the poor business owner/manager and employee are quickly forgotten. The reality is that they are nothing more than pawns in a popularity contest to see who holds the most influence with the government of the day.
Members Are Being Lied To
The cold hard truth of the matter is that both employer and employee groups don’t want their respective potential and current members to be able to solve their IR problems themselves, because if they did, they would soon realise that there is no point in staying a member.
Whilst they do provide a ‘service’ to their members in the form of a contact line to seek advice on their IR related issue. Actual advice on how to prevent it happening again is scarce or vague at best.
Both sides tell their respective members and future members, that Australia’s employment legislation is extremely complex, and it is only with their expert help that the average person will be able to understand it.
Steve Knott, Chief Executive of AMMA, when talking about the Fair Work Act 2009 stated “… for too long employers have battled an ineffective and uncompetitive workplace system that creates barriers and distractions to leadership, innovation and productivity.” That unions were “…forcing employers to process a phone book of union claims, effectively excluding any real opportunity to look at ways to improve the competitiveness and productivity of the business”. He goes even further to say that “The system also leaves employers under a constant threat of strike action”
Is he right, making misleading comments, or showing his lack of understanding of Australia’s employment legislation?
It should be noted that the comments above were made in support of the Fair Work Amendment (Bargaining Processes) Bill 2014 which is currently before parliament.
Hardly a day goes by where there isn’t some sort of commentary about how bad unions are, and why they are the worst thing to hit Australian businesses since the removal of slave labour.
Fortunately for the lazy, arrogant and incompetent managers, they are the best friend that they can have. Here are some of the top reasons why we should open our arms up to the union movement.
Gives You Someone To Blame
Have you just negotiated an enterprise agreement that didn’t go as well as you thought it would, or with the exorbitant wage increases is going to cost the company more money than originally budgeted for?
Before the C Level managers or board ask you the question about how it happened, make sure that you point the finger at the union official who sat at the negotiating table and told you what you had to put in to your agreement.[GARD]
Saves You Actually Having To Talk To Your Staff
Are you sick of talking to your staff about changes or think that all they do is come to you all the time to whinge and whine about the smallest thing? Do you really want to tell them all to harden up, though know you can’t because it would be in breach of your company’s touchy feely Code of Conduct?
Close the door and ignore all of them. They will eventually get the idea that you don’t care about their kindergarten sob stories and take the matter straight to the union official the next time they come by. Or, if things are really that bad, they may get the union official to make a special visit just to talk to you.
You will be able to breathe a huge sigh of relief that instead of having to talk to 10, 20, or even 100 staff members you will soon be dealing with one union official. Remember, as soon as you start talking to a union official about something, it gives you someone to blame for whatever happens next.
What’s got you confused is how you make it happen.
Do you just give your staff an agreement that you prepared earlier and wait for a yay or nay from them? Or, do you give them a blank sheet of paper and get them to write down their wish list, picking and choosing what you want to put into it?
Whilst the process of negotiating an enterprise agreement is relatively easy, there are certain things that need to be done, and in the right order, otherwise you may have some explaining to do when you seek approval from the Fair Work Commission.
Notice Of Employee Representational Rights.
Before you can start bargaining for the enterprise agreement, you need to let your staff know that it is happening. This is where the Notice of Employee Representational Rights comes in.
Schedule 2.1 of the Fair Work Regulations 2009 specifies the content that the notice should have.
It is also worth noting that the notice of employee representational rights should be just that, and not have anything else attached to it, either in the email notification or when/if the notice is placed on a notice board.[GARD]
Every industry and field has their fair share of myths and misconceptions, and industrial relations is no different . Some have a resemblance of truth, whilst others are propagated by those within to improve their perceived value to a prospective client.
In no particular order, here are seven of the most common myths surrounding industrial relations
Myth #1 You need to have a degree in Law or Human Resources to understand Industrial Relations
Whilst it may be beneficial to have studied a HR degree if you are working as a generalist that dabbles in IR. If Industrial Relations is going to be your focus, or you are wanting to understand it better for your own business, then a degree isn’t needed.
With the average HR or Law degree doing only a module/unit on Industrial Relations, you would be better off looking at the Fair Work Commission or Fair Work Ombudsman’s website for the answer to any questions that you may have.
Merriam Webster defines Industrial Relations as the dealings or relationships of a usually large business or industrial enterprise with its own workers, with labor in general, with governmental agencies, or with the public.
If you have picked up a paper any time in the past 6 – 12 months, you could be forgiven for thinking that industrial relation is the trade off between wage increases and the mythical productivity increase.
Yet industrial relations is both more and less complex than that.