Development of labour law

1) What do you think have been the advantages of a centralised industrial relations regulatory system? Why did Australia start to move away from it from the mid-1980s?

2) What were the similarities and differences in the approaches to industrial relations regulation of the Labor and conservative parties in the 1990s? How different were they?

3) Discuss how the concepts of individualism and collectivism have been used in regulating industrial relations over the 1990s and 2000s. How has the use of each changed over this period?

Federal system of Industrial Relations and coverage issues

  • What do we mean by ‘coverage’ and why are there disputes around this concept?
  • “The referral of powers by most Australian states to the federal government has without question made the industrial regulatory system easier to manage.” Do you agree? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • Describe the ways in which the Australian Constitution has and continues to affect the issue of industrial relations coverage.
  • In relation to federal and state/territory industrial laws, why does the Fair Work Act 2009 bother to have a category of non-excluded matters?

International influences on Industrial Relations

1) What is the relevance of international treaties, in the form of ILO Conventions, to understanding how Australian labour law is regulated? If relevant, give an example of their impact.

2) “The reason why there has been a significant increase in ILO concerns about Australian labour law in the past 20 years is because the ILO standards are out of step with a modern economy.” Do you agree or disagree? Discuss.

3) What are the strengths and weaknesses in how the ILO does its business?  Assess how these affect its influence upon Australian labour regulation.

4) How important have the Fair Work Act 2009’s departures from the ILO standards been?

Legal structure – institutions & relationships

1) Explain the elements of continuity and change in the institutional structure under      the Fair Work Act 2009.

2) What is Good Faith Bargaining? How does the Fair Work Commission seek to ensure that it occurs?

3) What are the chief powers of the Fair Work Commission?  Of these, which do you consider to be the most importance and why?

4) Given the voluntary nature of bargaining, the Fair Work Commission can be said to no longer have control over the industrial relations regime. Do you agree with this statement? If so, why? If not, why not?

5) How would you describe the Fair Work Commission’s general approach to helping to maintain industrial peace across Australia?

Legal structure – employment conditions & safety net

1) Do the National Employment Standards (NES) represent greater continuity or change from the Howard government’s AFPCS? Illustrate your answer with examples.

2) How are casuals treated by the NES? How might their treatment be improved?

3) Do the strengths of the NES outweigh its weaknesses? Discuss by considering examples of particular standards.

4) Discuss the purpose and coverage of the ‘modern award’. What are the important issues that should be part of such a discussion?

Collective Bargaining & Enterprise Bargaining Agreements

  • What are the most significant differences with regards to enterprising bargaining between the Howard government and Rudd government’s laws?
  • What is meant by Good Faith Bargaining and why do you think it would still be important in a collective bargaining environment?
  • What distinguishes the 3 types of EBAs? Why do you think the Fair Work Act has these different categories?

4) Discuss the nature of collective bargaining under the Fair Work Act?

5) What must all EBAs contain? Why do you think these provisions are important?

6) What is the Fair Work Commission’s role in encouraging enterprise bargaining? How effective is this role?

Conciliation and Arbitration & ADR

1) What do understand by ‘conciliation’ as it developed in the Australian industrial relations system over the past century? What were its major strengths and failings?

2) Given that the conciliation and arbitration system was something of a precursor to     alternative dispute resolution (ADR), why isn’t ADR used more frequently in the industrial relations system?

3) What do we mean by the difference between ‘interests’ and ‘rights’ disputes? How does a discussion of these help us understand the      influence of ADR in resolving disputes?

4) Explain the nature of the dispute settling procedure under the Fair Work Act for a dispute             about a matter covered by an enterprise bargaining agreement. Assess its effectiveness.

5) Discuss the Fair Work Commission’s arbitration power under the Fair Work Act? How important is it?

Termination of employment

1) Discuss the unlawful termination regime under the Fair Work Act and how, in substance and process, it differs from the Unfair Dismissal regime under the Act.

2) What is the significance of describing the unfair dismissal disputes as interests disputes which must initially be dealt with by the Fair Work Commission?

3) What do you consider to be the most contentious features of the unfair dismissal regime under the Fair Work Act 2009? Why are they so important and can you suggest improvements?

4) “Australia has made a good deal of progress in providing for support for workers whose positions have been made redundant”. Do you agree with this statement? What else needs to be done in this regard?

Trade Unions & Industrial Action

  • Why do you think the area of right of entry for union officials is such a contentious matter in industrial relations? How have the Fair Work Act provisions made it harder for union officials to exercise a right of entry and why?
  • What do we mean by ‘protected industrial action’? How does that provided under the Fair Work Act 2009 differ from the Keating and Howard government provisions?
  • Discuss the complex procedures required for the holding of a ballot for protected industrial action. What are the pros and cons of such a complex set of procedures?
  • Outline the grounds for suspending or terminating protected industrial action. Why do you think such grounds need to be so broad given the procedures for initiating such action in the first place?
  • Different work relationships & General Protections

1) Discuss what is meant by the term ‘permanent casual’ as a category of employment. Is it the way of the future or just a misleading term from the recent past?

2) How has the Fair Work Act departed from its recent predecessor laws in dealing with casuals? What more could it have done?

3) What are the advantages and disadvantages for workers of entering into a labour hire employment arrangement?

4) What purpose do the General Protections provisions serve in an industrial relations law?

5) What would you need to do as an employee             to successfully take an action under the General Protections provisions of the Fair Work Act? Illustrate your answer with a possible example.



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