The ASU recently participated in a conference before Commissioner Lee, about an application made by the Union over concerns about the conduct of bargaining representatives.
Conferences at the Commission are different from Hearings, in that the outcomes are not published, and the Commissioner will not issue decisions or orders.
An independent, non-union bargaining representative had been claiming to represent all non-union staff, and had surveyed all staff using North East Water facilities, about the as yet unresolved question around wages. The Union wrote to the bargaining representative and Management expressing our concern that this behaviour was inconsistent with the Good Faith Bargaining requirements set out in the Fair Work Act.
At the conference it became clear that the bargaining representative had only been nominated by himself, and therefore could not claim to represent anyone other than himself.
Commissioner Lee made it clear to the representative and to Management what their responsibilities were and recommended that the representative issue an all staff email, retracting the survey.
It was clear that the Union was on very strong ground and should the matter have gone to hearing, we would be very confident of a positive result. As such, the parties agreed to resolve the matter consistent with the recommendations of Commissioner Lee.
ASU members and delegates involved in bargaining are often confronted with non-union bargaining representatives. It is important to remember that non-union bargaining representatives are only there to represent those people who have nominated them in writing, and that they cannot collude with Management. Without written nomination, they can only be regarded as representing themselves or management interests. If you believe a non-union bargaining representative is out of line, you can challenge them and ask who it is that they are representing. Talk to your organiser if you have any questions about this.