BSB50615 :Role of Enterprise Bargaining in Australian Employment Relations

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Human Resource Assignment Question

Discuss the role of Enterprise Bargaining in Australian Employment Relations

Human Resource Assignment Solution

Introduction

Bargaining is a process of negotiation between employers and employees to reach a mutual agreement on the wage and wage conditions of an industry (Coddington 2013). The adjudication may take place directly between the affected parties or between their representatives. It is commonly referred to as collective bargaining. For bargaining to be successful, it is imperative for both sides to be open to discussions. To ensure smooth working of this process and country’s economy, most governments regulate this process to make it fair and flowing (Gahan & Pekarek 2012). This essay will elucidate how the concept of collective bargaining has changed over-time and the crucial role of its subset ‘enterprise bargaining’ in industrial relations of Australia.

Nineties marked the change in global attitudes towards a neoliberal style of governance. Taking cues from advanced economies and to protect the economy, Australian government struck a deal with the Australian Council of Trade Unions in 1991 in which unions agreed to restrict wage demands and government promised to control inflation. This was the first time that both industrial disputes and inflation were controlled without altering workers’ wages (Blain 1993). This episode laid the foundations for enterprise bargaining in Australia. It marked an end of the era of compulsory collective bargaining and the beginning of out-of-court, amicable conciliation practices. That’s how enterprise level arbitration and conciliation started in Australia.

“Enterprise bargaining is a system where wage and wage conditions are determined by genuine negotiations at each enterprise through workplace participation by management, workforce and their representatives, with outcomes based on local circumstance and mutual interest” (Federal Coalition Government of Australia, cited in( Macdonald, Campbell & Burgess 2001). Enterprise bargaining has become an integral part of the Australian employment system (Belchamber 2012). This mechanism of bargaining imparts strength to industrial relations via three routes: increased flexibility, employee empowerment with better workplace environment and high productivity. The question remains, did it give Australian industrial relations the success it claimed of?

First section of this essay will introduce different types of bargaining structures, then the meaning of ‘enterprise’ in enterprise bargaining will be explored. Next section, will illustrate three prime legislations instrumental in maturation of the concept of enterprise bargaining in Australia. The review part of this essay will first elucidate the role of unions and employer associations in bargaining, followed by an assessment section on the significance of enterprise bargaining and final section will delve into the future of enterprise bargaining in Australia.

Types of Bargaining Structures

Bargaining structures are an institutional arrangement which lays the boundaries of negotiations (McCrystal 2010). These specific structures provide a system of rules and regulations which guide participating parties (employers and employees) in determining the terms and conditions of their relationship.

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