Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

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State Wage Case 2015 continues today, streaming live

The State Wage Case is held pursuant to section 50A of the Industrial Relations Act, 1979. This obliges the Commission before 1 July in each year to make a General Order setting the minimum wage under the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act, 1993 for employees over the age of 21, for apprentices and for trainees. The General Order also adjusts rates of wages paid under State awards. More information can be found here.

The State Wage Case 2015 was heard on 2 June 2015 and continues today, 3 June from 3pm to hear submissions following the Fair Work Commission issuing its Annual Wage Review decision yesterday.

Submissions and powerpoint presentations can be viewed here.

Proceedings will be webcast and can be viewed here.

State Wage Case 2015 streaming live now

The State Wage Case is held pursuant to section 50A of the Industrial Relations Act, 1979. This obliges the Commission before 1 July in each year to make a General Order setting the minimum wage under the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act, 1993 for employees over the age of 21, for apprentices and for trainees. The General Order also adjusts rates of wages paid under State awards. More information can be found here.

The State Wage Case 2015 is listed for 2 June 2015 and an additional date to be advised after the Annual Wage Review decision of Fair Work Commission.

Submissions can be viewed here.

Proceedings will be webcast and can be viewed here.

Negotiations found not to give rise to a variation of a contract

Red Express Pty Ltd, a business which owns and operates trucks, contracted to provide transport services to Toll Transport Pty Ltd.  In October 2009 the parties entered into a standard “Contract Carrier Agreement”, and in late 2010 an opportunity arose for Red Express to expand its work for Toll, by distributing products in the Katanning region of Western Australia.

Today, the Tribunal accepted there was a variation of the 2009 Agreement to accommodate the Katanning work at an agreed rate.  However, the Tribunal rejected Red Express’ claim that the 2009 Agreement was varied to include a term for minimum carton volumes and fuel levies. This was because there was no evidence that those two issues were finally agreed to by Toll. On the evidence, the parties did not proceed past the negotiation stage and there was no mutual assent to the alleged variation.

The Tribunal also considered the principles in relation to ‘no variation’ clauses, the subsequent conduct of the parties and certainty of terms.

The decision can be read here.

Compression of relativities in two awards considered by the Commission

The Australian Rail, Tram and Bus Industry Union was unsuccessful today in persuading the Commission to vary the Railway Employees’ Award and the Rail Car Drivers Award. The Union sought to vary the Awards to reflect the actual total percentage increases that were awarded to the State minimum wage since 2006.

It has been recognised by the Commission in Court Session in State Wage Cases that successive flat dollar increases to the State minimum wage over time can have the effect of compressing relativities between wage rates in awards. 

While the Commission accepted that since 2006 there has been a degree of compression of relativities within the Awards’ classifications, the effects were relatively small and inconsistent between classification levels.

The Commission held there was an insufficient nexus between cumulative State minimum wage increases, expressed in percentage terms, and the adjustment of the classification rates in the Awards.  The Commission appreciated that the Commission in Court Session has paid particular attention to awarding flat dollar increases to the minimum wage to favour the needs of the low paid.

In coming to its decision the Commission considered the importance of preserving the integrity of skill based career paths, the Awards’ rates as compared to cumulative CPI increases, the higher rates under the relevant industrial agreements, the modernisation of the Awards and potential flow on implications. On the evidence, it was clear that a substantial basis for the Union’s claim was to elevate the Awards’ base rates as a floor to bargain for an industrial agreement, which was not a proper basis to restore award relativities.

The Commission also discussed the meaning of a “public sector decision”.

The decision can be read here.

Non renewal of medical practitioner’s contract an industrial matter

The Public Service Arbitrator has found that there is jurisdiction to amend a claim to deal with a decision by the employer to not offer a medical practitioner a new contract when the existing fixed term contract expired. 

 

The Australian Medical Association originally made an application to the Public Service Arbitrator to deal with a claim that the medical practitioner had been treated unfairly and unlawfully when the employer suspended the medical practitioner pending a decision on whether to undertake a formal disciplinary inquiry into the practitioner’s conduct. 

 

There was a period of time during which the conciliation process was undertaken and when the parties had private discussions.  During that time, the medical practitioner’s contract was due to expire.  The employer did not offer a new contract and the AMA said that this was due to the allegations about the employee’s conduct and the findings made about it. 

 

The AMA sought to amend the application to include the issue of the non‑renewal of the contract.  The employer objected, saying that the Public Service Arbitrator does not have jurisdiction to deal with the non‑renewal of the contract.  The employer also argued that there is a public sector standard, the Employment Standard, and therefore the Public Service Arbitrator is excluded from dealing with the matter. 

 

The Arbitrator found that whilst the Public Service Appeal Board may not be able to deal with a non‑renewal of a contract of employment because an appeal before it relates to a dismissal, in this case the matter relates not to a dismissal but to an industrial matter which is within the Arbitrator’s jurisdiction. 

 

The Arbitrator also found that the Employment Standard relates to a particular matter, that is the filling of a vacancy, and the issue before the Arbitrator is not about that matter but about the non‑renewal of the contract and therefore there is no limitation on the Arbitrator’s jurisdiction because of the Employment Standard. 

 

Therefore, the application could be amended and the expanded matter can be dealt with by conciliation and arbitration.

Click here to read the decision.

Contact Us

Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission
17th Floor
111 St Georges Terrace
PERTH WA 6000

Phone : (08) 9420 4444
Facsimile : (08) 9420 4500
Free Call : 1800 624 263

Free Fax :1800 804 987

Email : mail reg

 

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