When we’re working in a job in Australia, the way we are paid, the conditions we’re allowed (such as access to leave or how much we get paid for working outside of business hours) are governed by your Enterprise Bargaining Agreement or ‘EBA’. EBAs were first introduced in Australia in 1991 and were again reinstalled after the demise of ‘Workchoices’ and the legislation of the Fair Work Act in 2009.
Collective bargaining arises from the enduring fact that most of the time, for most employees, there is an underlying power imbalance at work. This means that your boss holds more power than you do to make decisions that impact you simply because they can give you direction at work.
Your workplace EBA is there to protect you by ensuring you are given what you’re entitled to. Some EBAs even have clauses included about fair discipline procedures. An EBA is formed through negotiations between employees and employers. We know that employees get better outcomes in workplaces that come together as a collective to advocate for the best outcomes for themselves.
Trade Unions in Australia are the bodies that provide employees with a means to come together as a collective. Workplaces that tend to fair the best bargaining for an EBA are referred to as “unionised” or having a “high density” of union members. This means that there are a high percentage of union members at that workplace, compared to workers who are not in the union.
The reason it’s important to tell your colleagues to join the union is that around EBA bargaining, if there are more union members, you’ve got a bigger group of people who will agree to the best outcomes. It also means that if industrial action is needed, the group of employees that partake is larger; this causes more strife for an employer who will then give the employees what they’re asking for!
After all, a group of voices is louder and more powerful than one voice alone!
For more information about Collective Bargaining or Enterprise Bargaining Agreements you can talk to your HACSU Delegate today or contact HACSU Assist on ASSIST@hacsu.asn.au
The alphabet of EBA:
Here are some of the many things that are negotiated on in an EBA...
Consultation over changes
Family violence leave
Health and safety
Long service leave