Employment, Workplace Relations & Safety » Industrial Relations & Dispute Resolution

Few industries in Australia are experiencing a comfortable workplace relations environment. In many industries employers continue to face significant skill shortages. Construction, mining and engineering employers, for example, are being pressured to accede to hefty wage demands.

Meanwhile, industries that need to undergo significant structural change, such as manufacturing, are often struggling to implement the requisite workplace change in the face of union and employee opposition.

Our team is at the forefront of developments to test the enterprise bargaining and protected industrial action provisions of the Fair Work Act to support our clients’ enterprise bargaining and workplace change strategies.

Our Experts

Heidi Roberts.jpg

Heidi Roberts

Partner Location Melbourne Profile
Jack de Flamingh.jpg

Jack de Flamingh

Partner Location Sydney Profile
Jacqueline Parker.jpg

Jacqueline Parker

Special Counsel Location Melbourne Profile
Janine Young2

Janine Young

Partner Location Melbourne Profile
John-Tuck.jpg

John Tuck

Partner Location Melbourne Profile
Nick Ellery.jpg

Nicholas Ellery

Partner Location Perth Profile
LeMARENickwebsitegreySIZEDTH.jpg

Nick Le Mare

Partner Location Brisbane Profile
RosemaryROCHE.jpg

Rosemary Roach

Consultant Location Perth Profile
Ruth-Nocka.jpg

Ruth Nocka

Special Counsel Location Sydney Profile
BILLINGSimonwebsitegreySIZEDTH.jpg

Simon Billing

Partner Location Perth Profile
PRICEStephenwebsitegreySIZEDTH.jpg

Stephen Price

Partner Location Sydney Profile
Tracy Caspersz.jpg

Tracy Caspersz

Counsel Location Perth Profile

Our Experience

Brookfield Multiplex test case prosecution

The Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC) recently commenced a high profile test case in the Federal Court against Brookfield Multiplex Limited (BML), the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and a CFMEU shop steward working at one of BML’s projects, Robert Mates.

The case was novel in that the ABCC alleged that both the CFMEU, and BML as the employer of Mates were liable for his alleged misconduct in breach of provisions of the FW Act and the BCII Act. Normally the ABCC would only pursue the union as being liable for the unlawful conduct of a shop steward/union delegate.

Corrs maintained that there was no legal basis to find BML liable for the conduct of Mates in his capacity as a shop steward and acted for BML to resolve the matter as against BML including that the ABCC withdraw the proceeding against BML. Employers in the construction industry welcomed this outcome as any finding of liability against BML would have set an unfavourable precedent.

They must however remain vigilant to ensure lawful on site conduct at all times as it remains open for the ABCC to pursue employers for the unlawful conduct of shop stewards in other appropriate cases.

More

DEEWR Fair Work legislation

Corrs has a long history of advising the federal government on industrial relations and employment law. It has played an integral role in the development of federal legislation since 2005, including the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 (BCII Act) and the FW Act.

In a two and a half year project, Corrs worked closely with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to draft parts of the FW Act, including complex transitional arrangements and general protections provisions, provide advice on various policy implementation options and test provisions for potential unintended consequences.

More

Metropolitan Fire Emergency Services

The Metropolitan Fire Emergency Services (MFES) was under significant union pressure to include senior managers in a general operational staff agreement. Such an agreement would have significantly undermined the capacity of the MFES to implement its proposed cultural workplace change initiatives.

Corrs successfully utilized new provisions in the FW Act to obtain a scope order to ensure that both senior managers and middle managers would not be covered by the agreement.

More

Qantas dispute: Industrial action and lockout

On 29 October 2011, Qantas grounded its entire Qantas fleet (domestic and international). The decision to ground the fleet was made as part of the announcement that pilots, licensed engineers and baggage, ground and catering staff would be locked out by Qantas from 8pm, 31 October 2011 for an indefinite period.

This announcement was in response to the ongoing industrial action and interruptions to operations.

Following the Qantas announcement the federal Minister for Workplace Relations, Senator Evans, announced that the Government would be making an application to Fair Work Australia (FWA) for the termination, or alternatively a suspension of all industrial action by both Qantas and the relevant unions.

The responsible Ministers of New South Wales and Victoria also applied to terminate the industrial action. Corrs assisted our clients in their applications.

Corrs advised the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet about the options available to the Victorian government to take steps to stop the threatened industrial action. We also subsequently appeared for the Victorian Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations at the hearing of the federal Government’s application; for the NSW Minister responsible for Workplace Relations; and on behalf of both the Victoria and NSW Ministers at FWA’s scheduled hearing before the full bench.

The FWA reached a decision and made orders to terminate the industrial action on the basis that a suspension would not provide sufficient protection against the risk of significant damage to the tourism industry.

This was a high profile dispute in which stakes were high for all concerned, including significant sections of the aviation and tourism industries. Our timely and effective response demonstrated Corrs’ capability and our involvement is evidence of the confidence that both governments have in Corrs.

More

Qantas labour dispute

Qantas made history by grounding its entire global fleet in response to a dispute between the airline and three of its unions. With Corrs’ assistance, the Victorian and New South Wales governments intervened in the standoff, which centred on enterprise agreement negotiations.

The Full Bench of Fair Work Australia WA granted the Federal Government’s application to terminate protected action. The Victorian and NSW Governments supported the application. The Bench found that the company’s actions were likely to cause significant damage to tourism and air transport, but felt this was not the case in relation to action taken by the TWU, ALAEA and AIPA unions.

With Corrs’ assistance, the Victorian and New South Wales governments intervened in the standoff, which centred on enterprise agreement negotiations.
The Full Bench of Fair Work Australia WA granted the Federal Government’s application to terminate protected action.  The Victorian and NSW Governments supported the application.  The Bench found that the company’s actions were likely to cause significant damage to tourism and air transport, but felt this was not the case in relation to action taken by the TWU, ALAEA and AIPA unions
More

Victorian Government - Public sector bargaining

Corrs has, and continues to be a key advisor to government on public sector enterprise bargaining playing important roles in negotiating agreements with nurses, health professionals and public servants and assisting the State through courts and tribunals to stop or prevent industrial action that has significant impact on the community.

Corrs has assisted the Victorian government in achieving bargained or arbitrated outcome consistent with its wages policy, and importantly maintaining the integrity of its budget in key areas of service delivery.

More

Our Thinking

A regional guide to 'restrictive convenants'

This guide contains discussions on non-compete covenants, non-solicitation covenants and non-solicitation of employees’ clauses, issues relating to employee benefits, pension, stock plans and more.

More Download

Social media in the workplace - Risks for employees and lessons for employers

Recent cases have highlighted the perils of social media for employees, and the importance for employers of managing these issues correctly.

More

Employment and industrial relations implications arising out of Queensland’s contestability reforms

The scene is set in Queensland for greater competition in public health services.

More

Workplace bullying claims will increase under Fair Work Commission’s anti-bullying jurisdiction

What steps should employers take to prepare for the new Workplace Anti-Bullying Jurisdiction from early next year?

More

Social media: Private life and work life collides again

The latest high profile case about freedom of speech on social media has lessons for all employees and their employers.

More

Four ways the Fair Work Act is making business riskier for employers

Making decisions that affect employees is more risky than ever and the penalty of poor planning is conflict with unions and litigation in court.

More

Should abusive conduct by union officials be tolerated in our workplaces?

What can employers do when confronted with obnoxious or offensive behaviour by union officials?

More

New Fair Work Act amendments ignore greenfields agreements strife

Deadlocks between unions and employers over greenfields agreements will persist and investment will suffer.

More

What does social media's prominence mean for the workplace?

Social media continues to increase in prominence in the workplace both as a social tool and also as a business tool. So what does that mean for employers?

More

Fair Work Act: Are general protections claims on the rise?

The recent predictions about the use of the general protections provisions under the Fair Work Act have come true.

More

The Fair Work Act Review and key developments in enterprise bargaining

In this paper, we provide an update on the progress of the Fair Work Act Review and a round-up of some significant recent decisions dealing with enterprise bargaining and protected industrial action.

More Download

A Fairer Work Act?

The government has announced the much anticipated review of the Fair Work Act. Whilst noting the act is working well at the moment this presents an opportunity to see if it can be improved.

More

The Fair Work Act's impact on industrial relations

We have recently seen a large number of industrial disputes taking place in Australia, a lot of people are pointing to the Fair Work Act as being the culprit. But what's the real story?

More

Six lessons from Qantas

As the dust settles following Qantas’ worldwide grounding, some clear lessons for employers have emerged from the many months of disputation over enterprise agreement negotiations at the airline.

More

Navigating the Fair Work Laws

As more and more companies invest overseas, the need for readily available, accurate, and detailed knowledge of labour and employment laws in multiple jurisdictions becomes an essential resource for employers and their counsel.

More

Legal Compliance in Australia

As more and more companies invest overseas, the need for readily available, accurate, and detailed knowledge of labour and employment laws in multiple jurisdictions becomes an essential resource for employers and their counsel.

More

Transition to Forward with Fairness: Labor’s Reform Agenda

This is a practical guide to these significant transitional arrangements, the full implementation of which was not complete until early 2010. This book, has ongoing relevance as a useful guide to a turbulent phase of workplace relations change.

More

Workplace Relations in the Building and Construction Industry

This book explains the significant changes that have occurred in the regulation of the workplace relations in the building and construction industry in Australia over several years.

More

Our Experience

Brookfield Multiplex test case prosecution

The Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC) recently commenced a high profile test case in the Federal Court against Brookfield Multiplex Limited (BML), the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and a CFMEU shop steward working at one of BML’s projects, Robert Mates.

The case was novel in that the ABCC alleged that both the CFMEU, and BML as the employer of Mates were liable for his alleged misconduct in breach of provisions of the FW Act and the BCII Act. Normally the ABCC would only pursue the union as being liable for the unlawful conduct of a shop steward/union delegate.

Corrs maintained that there was no legal basis to find BML liable for the conduct of Mates in his capacity as a shop steward and acted for BML to resolve the matter as against BML including that the ABCC withdraw the proceeding against BML. Employers in the construction industry welcomed this outcome as any finding of liability against BML would have set an unfavourable precedent.

They must however remain vigilant to ensure lawful on site conduct at all times as it remains open for the ABCC to pursue employers for the unlawful conduct of shop stewards in other appropriate cases.

DEEWR Fair Work legislation

Corrs has a long history of advising the federal government on industrial relations and employment law. It has played an integral role in the development of federal legislation since 2005, including the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 (BCII Act) and the FW Act.

In a two and a half year project, Corrs worked closely with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to draft parts of the FW Act, including complex transitional arrangements and general protections provisions, provide advice on various policy implementation options and test provisions for potential unintended consequences.

Metropolitan Fire Emergency Services

The Metropolitan Fire Emergency Services (MFES) was under significant union pressure to include senior managers in a general operational staff agreement. Such an agreement would have significantly undermined the capacity of the MFES to implement its proposed cultural workplace change initiatives.

Corrs successfully utilized new provisions in the FW Act to obtain a scope order to ensure that both senior managers and middle managers would not be covered by the agreement.

Qantas dispute: Industrial action and lockout

On 29 October 2011, Qantas grounded its entire Qantas fleet (domestic and international). The decision to ground the fleet was made as part of the announcement that pilots, licensed engineers and baggage, ground and catering staff would be locked out by Qantas from 8pm, 31 October 2011 for an indefinite period.

This announcement was in response to the ongoing industrial action and interruptions to operations.

Following the Qantas announcement the federal Minister for Workplace Relations, Senator Evans, announced that the Government would be making an application to Fair Work Australia (FWA) for the termination, or alternatively a suspension of all industrial action by both Qantas and the relevant unions.

The responsible Ministers of New South Wales and Victoria also applied to terminate the industrial action. Corrs assisted our clients in their applications.

Corrs advised the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet about the options available to the Victorian government to take steps to stop the threatened industrial action. We also subsequently appeared for the Victorian Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations at the hearing of the federal Government’s application; for the NSW Minister responsible for Workplace Relations; and on behalf of both the Victoria and NSW Ministers at FWA’s scheduled hearing before the full bench.

The FWA reached a decision and made orders to terminate the industrial action on the basis that a suspension would not provide sufficient protection against the risk of significant damage to the tourism industry.

This was a high profile dispute in which stakes were high for all concerned, including significant sections of the aviation and tourism industries. Our timely and effective response demonstrated Corrs’ capability and our involvement is evidence of the confidence that both governments have in Corrs.

Qantas labour dispute

Qantas made history by grounding its entire global fleet in response to a dispute between the airline and three of its unions. With Corrs’ assistance, the Victorian and New South Wales governments intervened in the standoff, which centred on enterprise agreement negotiations.

The Full Bench of Fair Work Australia WA granted the Federal Government’s application to terminate protected action. The Victorian and NSW Governments supported the application. The Bench found that the company’s actions were likely to cause significant damage to tourism and air transport, but felt this was not the case in relation to action taken by the TWU, ALAEA and AIPA unions.

With Corrs’ assistance, the Victorian and New South Wales governments intervened in the standoff, which centred on enterprise agreement negotiations.
The Full Bench of Fair Work Australia WA granted the Federal Government’s application to terminate protected action.  The Victorian and NSW Governments supported the application.  The Bench found that the company’s actions were likely to cause significant damage to tourism and air transport, but felt this was not the case in relation to action taken by the TWU, ALAEA and AIPA unions

Victorian Government - Public sector bargaining

Corrs has, and continues to be a key advisor to government on public sector enterprise bargaining playing important roles in negotiating agreements with nurses, health professionals and public servants and assisting the State through courts and tribunals to stop or prevent industrial action that has significant impact on the community.

Corrs has assisted the Victorian government in achieving bargained or arbitrated outcome consistent with its wages policy, and importantly maintaining the integrity of its budget in key areas of service delivery.

Our Thinking

Workplace Relations in the Building and Construction Industry

This book explains the significant changes that have occurred in the regulation of the workplace relations in the building and construction industry in Australia over several years.

Transition to Forward with Fairness: Labor’s Reform Agenda

This is a practical guide to these significant transitional arrangements, the full implementation of which was not complete until early 2010. This book, has ongoing relevance as a useful guide to a turbulent phase of workplace relations change.

Legal Compliance in Australia

As more and more companies invest overseas, the need for readily available, accurate, and detailed knowledge of labour and employment laws in multiple jurisdictions becomes an essential resource for employers and their counsel.

Navigating the Fair Work Laws

As more and more companies invest overseas, the need for readily available, accurate, and detailed knowledge of labour and employment laws in multiple jurisdictions becomes an essential resource for employers and their counsel.

A regional guide to 'restrictive convenants'

This guide contains discussions on non-compete covenants, non-solicitation covenants and non-solicitation of employees’ clauses, issues relating to employee benefits, pension, stock plans and more.

Six lessons from Qantas

As the dust settles following Qantas’ worldwide grounding, some clear lessons for employers have emerged from the many months of disputation over enterprise agreement negotiations at the airline.

The Fair Work Act's impact on industrial relations

We have recently seen a large number of industrial disputes taking place in Australia, a lot of people are pointing to the Fair Work Act as being the culprit. But what's the real story?

A Fairer Work Act?

The government has announced the much anticipated review of the Fair Work Act. Whilst noting the act is working well at the moment this presents an opportunity to see if it can be improved.

Fair Work Act: Are general protections claims on the rise?

The recent predictions about the use of the general protections provisions under the Fair Work Act have come true.

What does social media's prominence mean for the workplace?

Social media continues to increase in prominence in the workplace both as a social tool and also as a business tool. So what does that mean for employers?

New Fair Work Act amendments ignore greenfields agreements strife

Deadlocks between unions and employers over greenfields agreements will persist and investment will suffer.

Should abusive conduct by union officials be tolerated in our workplaces?

What can employers do when confronted with obnoxious or offensive behaviour by union officials?

Four ways the Fair Work Act is making business riskier for employers

Making decisions that affect employees is more risky than ever and the penalty of poor planning is conflict with unions and litigation in court.

Workplace bullying claims will increase under Fair Work Commission’s anti-bullying jurisdiction

What steps should employers take to prepare for the new Workplace Anti-Bullying Jurisdiction from early next year?

Social media: Private life and work life collides again

The latest high profile case about freedom of speech on social media has lessons for all employees and their employers.

Employment and industrial relations implications arising out of Queensland’s contestability reforms

The scene is set in Queensland for greater competition in public health services.

The Fair Work Act Review and key developments in enterprise bargaining

In this paper, we provide an update on the progress of the Fair Work Act Review and a round-up of some significant recent decisions dealing with enterprise bargaining and protected industrial action.

Social media in the workplace - Risks for employees and lessons for employers

Recent cases have highlighted the perils of social media for employees, and the importance for employers of managing these issues correctly.

Our Experts

Heidi Roberts.jpg

Heidi Roberts

Partner Melbourne +61 3 9672 3562
Jack de Flamingh.jpg

Jack de Flamingh

Partner Sydney +61 2 9210 6192
Jacqueline Parker.jpg

Jacqueline Parker

Special Counsel Melbourne +61 3 9672 3406
Janine Young2

Janine Young

Partner Melbourne +61 3 9672 3254
John-Tuck.jpg

John Tuck

Partner Melbourne +61 3 9672 3257
Nick Ellery.jpg

Nicholas Ellery

Partner Perth +61 8 9460 1615
LeMARENickwebsitegreySIZEDTH.jpg

Nick Le Mare

Partner Brisbane +61 7 3228 9786
RosemaryROCHE.jpg

Rosemary Roach

Consultant Perth +61 8 9460 1603
Ruth-Nocka.jpg

Ruth Nocka

Special Counsel Sydney +61 2 9210 6597
BILLINGSimonwebsitegreySIZEDTH.jpg

Simon Billing

Partner Perth +61 8 9460 1793
PRICEStephenwebsitegreySIZEDTH.jpg

Stephen Price

Partner Sydney +61 2 9210 6236
Tracy Caspersz.jpg

Tracy Caspersz

Counsel Perth +61 8 9460 1601