TEU opposes early end to ‘duty to conclude’

Posted By TEU on Jan 31, 2013 |

Tertiary Update Vol 16 No 2

Several employers in the tertiary education sector are already looking to implement the government’s proposed employment laws, before parliament has passed them.

Normally, during each set of negotiations, TEU members and their employers agree on a process arrangement outlining how the bargaining will take place. Clause 11 of TEU’s generic bargaining process arrangement says that bargaining will be deemed to be concluded when a new collective agreement is signed. However, several employers now want to amend that clause, saying that although there is a requirement to conclude bargaining under the current legislation, it does not apply in the proposed new law. Those employers want the process arrangement to allow the new law to apply to bargaining if Parliament passes it.

Under the current law, the parties involved in collective bargaining negotiations must keep bargaining and conclude a collective agreement unless there is a “genuine reason based on reasonable grounds, not to”. This means employers and unions have to continue to bargain in order to try to reach an agreement, even after they disagree.

The government now plans to repeal this requirement, allowing employers to end negotiations without any agreement.

Last year the Department of Labour criticised the government’s proposal in their Regulatory Impact Statement stating ‘this proposal may encourage poor bargaining behaviour (such as surface bargaining)… when one party has no intention of concluding an agreement and does no more than going through the motions to avoid a breach of good faith complaint.’

However, whatever the two parties agree in the bargaining process arrangement will override the law, which is why employers are keen to soften the requirement to conclude bargaining in the process arrangement ahead of the proposed law changes.

TEU’s national industrial officer Irena Brorens says the government has not even introduced its proposed employment laws into parliament yet and there is no guarantee that they will pass.

“We’re advising everyone negotiating a collective agreement over the next few months to reject any attempt to introduce these new employment laws. Even if the law changes we will be seeking commitment to employers continuing to bargain until an agreement is reached. If employers do not have a duty to bargain they can walk away from their employees easily. Fewer collective agreements will exist and more disputes between employers and employees will arise.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Lincoln staff gain three days leave and $600
  2. A start made on apprenticeships, but more is needed
  3. Walsh and Handley move on
  4. PM’s new spending barely matches inflation
  5. Lincoln qualifications up for review


Other news

Dr Megan Woods to the Minister for Tertiary Education Skills and Employment (29 Jan 2013): ‘How much of the $42 million made available by the Government in May 2011 towards skilled job training for the Christchurch post-earthquake rebuild (Skills for Canterbury) has been allocated since March 2012?’

Hon Steven Joyce (Minister for Tertiary Education Skills and Employment) replied: ‘Reply due: 07 Feb 2013’ – Parliamentary questions for written answer

What I think it will do,” Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce said, “is you will see a move away from fine arts and performing arts into a stronger demand for more career-oriented areas.” It’s an affront to the notion that an education is of value in its own right; and that the creative thinking this country needs for its social, cultural and economic wellbeing often arises precisely out of the fine and liberal arts arenas – Simon Cunliffe, The Press

The Gillard government has rejected raising university student fees in its long-awaited response to a major review of higher education funding. It has also rejected calls to boost base funding for each university place, despite suggestions this would improve the quality of teaching and support economic growth – Sydney Morning Herald

Under proposals backed by David Willetts, the universities minister, publicly funded research will shift to an “open access” model by 2014, allowing anyone in the world to access the latest studies online without having to pay – The Telegraph  

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