Airport strike over pay negotiations highlights enterprise agreement risk to organisations

Recent industrial action across Australia’s airports has highlighted the risks that organisations are exposed to when up-to-date enterprise agreements are not maintained.

Airports Australia-wide have been subject to significant industrial action in recent works, which included Department of Immigration and Border Protection staff going on strike for 24 hours.


Frustrated airport workers walked off the job after a pay dispute with the Federal Government entered its fourth year. Nation-wide strike action, which has caused some passenger delays, has been staged as part of an effort to impel the Government to reach a resolution with frustrated staff.

The Community and Public Sector Union claims that about 100,000 workers remain without new enterprise agreements.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said that frustration amongst Department of Immigration and Border

Security workers is growing over pay rates, which have been ‘frozen’ for three years.

“There are more than 100,000 people in the same boat, trying to support their families while going without a pay rise for three years,” she said.

“(The workers are) struggling to hold onto basic workplace rights and conditions, particularly family-friendly rights that are so crucial in a modern workplace.”

Flood argues that the strike action in the department is the consequence of an inability or unwillingness of the Federal Government to resolve ongoing issues.

This case illustrates how critical it is for employers and employees reach workable enterprise agreements – and importantly, to ensure they don’t breach the terms of the enterprise agreement once it is in place. Industrial action by aggrieved staff can have significant and far-reaching costs and impacts for any company or organisation.

Formerly known as Enterprise Bargaining Agreements, Enterprise agreements are a collective industrial instrument that employers and employees can use to reach a consensus on the terms of employment. These agreements are usually made at a company level, and as such typically reflect the organisation’s various objectives and requirements, and the particular challenges it faces.

The enterprise agreement is usually established following a negotiation process involving employers and employees and/or their bargaining representatives. Workplace legislation has established a number of conditions that all enterprise agreements must meet if they are to be approved, including the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT).

iHR Australia offers a comprehensive range of Enterprise agreement services. We can offer assistance to organisations at each phase of the negotiation process, including development, negotiation, approval and implementation. The services we provide include:

• Development and drafting of enterprise agreements in accordance with organisational objectives and strategies
• Formation of communication strategies, agendas and timetables
• Negotiations with your employees and their nominated bargaining representatives (including unions)
• Advice in relation to protected industrial action, if any
• Advice on approval processes (voting etc)
• Creation of applications for approval to relevant tribunals
• Representation and advocacy in tribunals, as required
• Advice and interpretation of applicable legislation
• Adherence to the Fair Work Act 2009
• Adherence to good faith bargaining requirements and scope orders.

iHR Australia will translate your organisation’s intentions, needs, ideas and challenges into a plan of action that acknowledges your vision, values and resources. As your partner in the process, we help your company work towards a final enterprise agreement that achieves a balance between long-term organisational objectives and the terms and conditions of the agreement.

For more about iHR Australia’s Enterprise agreement services please contact us on Phone 1300 884 687 or make an online enquiry.

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