Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

Appeal for paid leave to attend PSAB hearing dismissed

The Full Bench has unanimously dismissed an appeal brought by the Civil Service Association of Western Australia (the CSA) against a decision of the Industrial Magistrate. In the decision at first instance, it was found that clause 37(1)(a) of the Public Service Award 1992 did not entitle the CSA's member to paid leave to attend proceedings before the Public Service Appeal Board because the matter related to his own appeal, not to union business (this decision can be read here).

The Full Bench considered whether the learned Industrial Magistrate erred when she construed cl 37 as being limited to circumstances relevant to union business, and, when her Honour found that union business meant the professional operations or commercial dealings of the CSA as a collective. The Full Bench determined that cl 37(1)(a) is not a stand-alone provision that would entitle an officer to paid leave to attend or give evidence before an industrial tribunal for any reason unrelated to Association or union business. Secondly, the Full Bench held that "Association Business" or "union business" relates to the CSA's functions, trade or work as a collective in relation to certain activities and that the CSA's member's proceedings before the Appeal Board could not be characterised as being either union or Association business.

In the alternative, the CSA contended that the observations by her Honour in relation to the effect of s 96B of the Act, dealing with award provisions contravening freedom of association principles, were manifestly unreasonable. This ground was not considered by the Full Bench because the observations made by the Court were not necessary for the determination of the matter. The Full Bench held this issue was best left to another occasion, when it directly arises for consideration.

The decision can be read here.

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