The Enterprise Agreement and Good Faith Bargaining. 

Bargaining for the new Enterprise Agreement commenced on 26 September 2023, and weekly meetings have been scheduled for bargaining. This process is governed by the principle of good faith bargaining, which is a crucial aspect of the industrial relations system. The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act) is the primary legislation governing industrial relations in Australia, and it includes provisions that outline the obligations of employers, employees, and their representatives when engaging in collective bargaining. 

Overall, good faith bargaining is intended to promote fairness, stability, and a balanced power dynamic in negotiations, ensuring that both employers and employees have a fair opportunity to influence the terms and conditions of employment through collective bargaining. 

Key aspects of good faith bargaining in Australia include: 

  • Mandatory Bargaining: The Act requires employers, employees, and their representatives to bargain in good faith when negotiating a collective agreement. This includes the duty to meet at reasonable times and confer genuinely in attempting to reach an agreement. 
  • Content of Good Faith Bargaining: The Act specifies several elements that are considered indicative of good faith bargaining, such as attending and participating in meetings at reasonable times, disclosing relevant information, responding to proposals in a timely manner, and giving genuine consideration to the proposals of others. 
  • Unlawful Actions: The Act prohibits certain actions during bargaining that may be considered as acting in bad faith. For example, making false or misleading representations, putting undue pressure on bargaining representatives, or refusing to recognise or bargain with a bargaining representative can be deemed unlawful. 
  • Requirement to Attend and Participate in Meetings: Parties engaged in bargaining are required to attend and participate in meetings for the purposes of bargaining. Unjustifiably refusing to attend or participate in such meetings is considered a failure to bargain in good faith. 
  • Dispute Resolution and Mediation: The Act provides mechanisms for dispute resolution, including the ability to seek assistance from the Fair Work Commission. Mediation is often used as a means to resolve disputes during bargaining. 
  • Good Faith Bargaining Orders: The Fair Work Commission has the authority to make orders if it is satisfied that a bargaining party has not met its good faith bargaining obligations. Such orders may compel a party to do or refrain from doing certain things during the bargaining process. 

As we continue to bargain for a new EA, we will be providing all members with an update after each bargaining meeting. We actively encourage members to contact us at eaafpa@afpa.org.au with any questions or ideas that they wish to be incorporated into the bargaining log of claims.