Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

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Further conference convened in Police dispute

The Commission sitting as the Public Service Arbitrator today convened a further compulsory conference under s 44 of the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA) concerning the present police dispute. This course was foreshadowed in the Commission’s orders and recommendation issued on 27 September 2017.

As mentioned in the Commission’s earlier statement of 27 September 2017, the Commissioner of Police’s final offer for a new industrial agreement was put to the Union on 22 September 2017. The Union has now formally rejected the offer.

At today’s compulsory conference, possible options for a limited arbitration of issues in dispute under s 42G of the Act were discussed. This course requires both parties to agree on matters to be referred to arbitration. The conference concluded on the basis that the Union will further consider its position and report back to the Commission by close of business Thursday, 12 October 2017.

Further conference regarding Police dispute

The Commission sitting as the Public Service Arbitrator will convene a further compulsory conference concerning the present police dispute at 10:30 am on Tuesday, 10 October 2017.

The Commission will issue a statement regarding the outcome of the conference in due course.

"Meet the Commission" function

On 27 September 2017, the Commission hosted a "Meet the Commission" function organised by the Industrial Relations Society of Western Australia.  Over 50 people from the industrial relations community attended, including industrial and legal practitioners, former members of the Commission, officers of industrial organisations and government agencies. 

Members of the Commission spoke about the role and structure of the Commission, their respective areas of work, and in particular about the Commission's role in providing a voluntary mediation service as well as its conciliation and arbitration functions under the compulsory system. 

Notes from the Chief Commissioner's speech on the evening can be found here.

The Commission's mediation service website can be found here and the brochure can be found here

Notes prepared by the Acting Senior Commissioner for the event can be found here

Commission issues statement concerning police enterprise bargaining negotiations for a replacement industrial agreement

The Commission sitting as the Public Service Arbitrator this evening, convened an urgent compulsory conference under s 44 of the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA) concerning the present police dispute. The Commission expressed to the parties its concern as to the deterioration in industrial relations during the course of this dispute, with the escalation of the Union’s industrial action campaign last night, being of major concern. As is publicly known, the Commissioner of Police was moved to issue a direction to police officers under the Police Force Regulations 1979 (WA) to ensure that public safety was not put at risk.

 There have been numerous compulsory conferences to date convened by the Commission in an endeavour to assist the parties to reach a new industrial agreement through enterprise bargaining. Thus far, those processes have been unsuccessful in reaching agreement. The Commissioner of Police put its final offer for a new industrial agreement to the Union on Friday, 22 September 2017. The Union’s Board will formally consider that final offer and respond to it after its meeting on 11 October 2017.

 At the urgent compulsory conference the Commissioner of Police sought orders from the Commission that all present industrial action cease and that further possible options for resolution of the present dispute be explored.

 Given the concerns held by the Commission about the impact of the ongoing industrial campaign, the cost to the community and the public interest, orders were made this evening requiring the Union and its police officer members to cease all industrial action by 12:00 p.m. Thursday, 28 September 2017. Furthermore, in response to an application made by the Union, the Commission also made orders restoring access by senior officers of the Union, to the police computer and communications system so that the Union can continue to communicate with its members during the bargaining process.

 Furthermore, the Commission has also ordered that the parties further confer and report back to the Commission by no later than 6 October 2017 on the prospect of a replacement industrial agreement. The Commission has also recommended that other steps be taken to explore possible agreed outcomes to resolve the present dispute, under the terms of the Industrial Relations Act 1979.

 A copy of the orders and recommendation issued by the Commission is attached to this Statement.

$34,776 for police officer unfairly removed from the Force

The WAIRC held that a police officer who it had previously found was unfairly removed from the Force could not be reinstated because the officer sent inappropriate emails to the Commissioner of Police and other officers.  Those actions led the WAIRC to unanimously conclude that the Commissioner had no confidence in the appellant, and therefore reinstatement was impracticable. The WAIRC decided, instead, it was appropriate that the appellant be compensated for loss and injury suffered as a result of the unfair removal. 

The WAIRC ordered the Commissioner of Police pay the appellant compensation for the injury on the basis of the effects of the removal on him.  Commissioner Emmanuel found that while there was evidence of injury, there was not evidence to demonstrate any particular fall from grace.  The Chief Commissioner held that the unfair removal of a police officer does not, in and of itself, warrant a ‘tariff’, but awarded $2,000 for injury.  Commissioner Matthews held that the appellant should receive $1,000 for injury on the basis of 'stress and insecurity associated with his removal' and a further $1,000 due to the ‘fall from grace’ uniquely suffered by police officers 'because police have an elevated status within the community'. 

The WAIRC was also split on the question of how much compensation should be awarded for lost earnings.  All members agreed that the appellant should receive $5,241, being the difference between the income the appellant earned since his removal and the amount he would have earned if he had not been removed.  Since his removal, the appellant mitigated his loss by setting up a business.  Commissioners Matthews and Emmanuel awarded the appellant compensation for the full costs incurred in setting up a business, including the purchase cost of capital assets that retain an undepreciated value.  They found that the costs were reasonable and held that the principle is that reasonable costs incurred in mitigating loss are compensable, not reasonable losses.  Chief Commissioner Scott agreed that the loss the officer sustained in setting up the business was reasonable, but found that the officer had ceased operating that business, was now in paid employment, and still held capital items.  The value of those capital items was not a loss to be compensated. 

The decision can be read here

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