27 April 2019

Bill Shorten seems to be positioning himself to reject key union demands if he wins the election. He told Nine newspapers: “We know that the bargaining system’s not working as it should. But I’m not convinced that we need to have, you know, everyone going into industry bargaining.” If he is saying that it should be up to the parties to determine whether they use industry or enterprise bargaining, fine. But if he is hinting that only a select few industries would be allowed to bargain at a higher level, then he is planning to breach our ILO treaty obligations: “According to the principle of free and voluntary collective bargaining embodied in Article 4 of Convention No. 98, the determination of the bargaining level is essentially a matter to be left to the discretion of the parties and, consequently, the level of negotiation should not be imposed by law… Legislation should not constitute an obstacle to collective bargaining at the industry level.” Adam Bandt has promised the Greens will use their influence to support industry bargaining, including by amending any back-pedalling bill proposed by Shorten: “Labour laws shouldn’t hold back one group of workers at the expense of others… Industry-wide bargaining should be available to everybody.”