find the latest legal job
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Adelaide CBD · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Adelaide CBD · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
Freelance Project Finance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Australia
· Vario are looking for freelance lawyers with experience in project finance ideally within the renewable energy sector
View details
Vario Freelance Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Australia
· We are looking for lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Freelance Construction Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· We are looking for construction lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Companies trying to avoid Fair Work Bill

Companies trying to avoid Fair Work Bill

Unions have alleged that major companies are pressuring employees to enter into workplace agreements to avoid compliance with the Fair Work Bill when it is enacted later this year. On Monday, an…

Unions have alleged that major companies are pressuring employees to enter into workplace agreements to avoid compliance with the Fair Work Bill when it is enacted later this year.

On Monday, an injunction was sought by Maurice Blackman Lawyers who were representing the Community and Public Sector Union, to prevent Telstra from forcing 150 employees to vote on a non-union collective agreement. Telstra withdrew the ballot before the matter proceeded in court.

Josh Bornstein, partner at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, told Lawyers Weekly that Telstra has been segmenting it's workforce into small groups and making them offers of non-union agreements.

"It does seem extremely unfair for groups as small as 30 - you've got examples here of 30 employees working in different Telstra offices in 4 different states - none of whom know the identity of the others being asked to vote on an agreement which is a collective agreement but who are precluded from acting at all as a collective," he said.

"This is really, a bit like a take it or leave it AWA strategy dressed up as a collective agreement and seems entirely inconsistent with the whole idea of having a collective agreement as opposed to an individual contract or individual statutory agreement."

Martin Barr, Telstra media spokesman, told Lawyers Weekly the company has and will continue to comply with the law at all times.

"Telstra's Employee Collective Agreement is about offering industry-leading terms and conditions," he said.

"Telstra has put forward a fair and competitive offer which protects all current terms and conditions of Enterprise Agreement employees and guarantees a 12.5 per cent pay increase over three years - that's over 13 per cent cumulative - plus up to 7.5 per cent in performance-based bonuses," he said.

But Bornstein thinks Telstra is acting in great haste to try and cover as many employees as possible with non-union agreements before the federal legislation changes in the middle year.

"My guess is that Telstra thinks WorkChoices is a much more attractive legislative regime for them to work under, they can reduce or minimise labour costs much more easily under WorkChoices then they will be able to do under the new legislation," he said.

The Australian Retailers Association, whose members include Baker's Delight, have also urged retailers to use a template job contract to lock in wages and conditions for five years, before the federal legislation comes into force, according to the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

"The Association is encouraging members to pursue a strategy to avoid compliance with the new IR laws and squeeze the last bitter drops out of the Work Choices lemon," said ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence.

"The template job contracts would entrench Work Choices in the retail sector long after the Fair Work Bill and modern awards come into effect."

The Senate is conducting an inquiry into the Fair Work Bill this week.

- Sarah Sharples

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Companies trying to avoid Fair Work Bill
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
06:00
WA to close ‘legal loophole’ on gender reassignment laws
Laws in Western Australia will soon change to permit married people to undergo gender reassignment s...
Lawyers take to Twitter to share career stories
Jan 22 2018
Lawyers take to Twitter to share career stories
The #mypathtolaw hashtag has been embraced by legal eagles to swap stories with the Twitter communit...
Jan 22 2018
Legal body disappointed with DPP emails leaked to tabloid
The NSW Bar Association has expressed “profound disappointment” over leaked emails from the NSW ...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...