Keep vigilant on safe rates impacts: lawyer

Tribunal behaviour and reform's affect on non-approved collective agreements seen as crucial

By Rob McKay | April 4, 2012

The outcome of ‘safe rates’ legislation will require short and long-term monitoring, a workplace lawyer has warned.

Moray & Agnew Partner Andrew Cairns has nominated changes to collective agreements and the behaviour and findings of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal as warranting particular attention.

The legislation states that: "Despite any other law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory, a road transport collective agreement has no effect unless it is an approved road transport collective agreement."

Cairns believes that, while providing a code of conduct for collective bargaining, "the impact of amendments outlining changes to collective agreements in the short-term would arguably see some upheaval within the industry".

Noting that the Tribunal will have a close relationship with Fair Work Australia (FWA), given that as the president of the Tribunal must also be a deputy president of FWA, he says the Tribunal is viewed as the key instrument in delivering the hoped-for outcome of safer roads and will likely have the greatest impact on industry dynamics.

Cairns adds that "the role to be played by the Tribunal, both in its later implementation and outcomes regarding wage-rates and disputes, will inevitably reform the behaviour of employers and employees, as well as contractors and principals".

The aim is
for the Tribunal to
less than rigidly formal in its workings.

"It is also intended to be less judicial and legislative in nature, while being more accommodating to all stakeholders, big and small," Cairns says.

"Appeals will be heard by a Full Bench of the Tribunal and legal representation is not generally permitted, however leave may be granted, though matters of law may be referred to the Federal court."

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