Protected Industrial Action

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The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) establishes a system of protected industrial action. Detail the procedures and discuss what they mean for employees and employers in relation to collective bargaining.

Introduction

On 1 July 2009, Australia’s workplace relations system changed. The Fair Work Act 2009 created a new legislative framework for workplace relations laws, to balance the needs of employees, the employers and the unions. A key objective of the Fair Work Act 2009 is achieving productivity and fairness in the workplace through the implementation of collective bargaining underpinned by simple good faith bargaining obligations and clear rules governing industrial action. This paper will detail the process and details of protected industrial action and what they mean for the employers and employees.

Industrial Action

Industrial action exerts pressure on the other party to the employment relationship with a view to gain a particular response from them. It can take a number of forms and reduces productivity at the workplace. Industrial action can take one or more of the following: go-slows, work-to-rule, boycotts, strikes, overtime bans, lock-outs and the performance of work by an employee in a manner different from that in which it is customarily performed. Industrial action is generally unlawful and prohibited unless it is protected industrial action. Employees who engage in industrial action which is not protected under the Fair Work Act can be exposed to penalties and disciplinary action.

Protected Industrial Action

Protected industrial action is industrial action which is taken by employees or an employer for the purpose of supporting or advancing claims in relation to an agreement under the Fair Work Act. One important factor of industrial action being protected is that it gives immunity from civil liability under State or Territory law…...

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