Fair Work Act 2009

Fair Work Act 2009

The establishment of the Fair Work Act 2009 could be viewed as a political move. Establishment of the Act came into play when there were several negative reviews about the Work Choices Legislation, which had been introduced by Howard’s government. Rudd government, which had taken office in 2007, was eager to appease the public, and this prompted it to work towards the establishment of a legislation that would enhance the establishment of positive Industrial Relations (Smith et al., 2012). This came at a period when people feared that the country would revert to the federal and state system. The government had to come out and establish a legislation that on the face of it would seem to bring unification and simplification of industrial systems for the sake of the public.

Rudd’s government had used Industrial Relations as a central policy during the 2007 election campaigns. This is a policy that would go well with any political campaign since it promises the public of the favorable workplace rights that they would derive as a result. When people are informed that there will be an introduction of enterprise bargaining and deregulation, they view a political party with such a manifesto as having the interests of the people at heart (Creighton, 2011). This is to say that such a policy can go a long way into persuading voters, hence deemed favorable for politics.

Fair Work Act has not been very forthcoming in bringing collective bargaining at the center of employment relations that the public hoped for. This shows that it was a move that was meant to appease the masses so that they can view the government as a liberator to their woes. The legislation has only worked in bringing increased tension between unions, employees and employers due to deferring expectations.

The Fair Work Act 2009 also accords much power to trade unions. A favorable example is where unions have been provided with bargaining representative status so long as they have one member that is going to be covered in the prospective agreement. This means that the unions have automatic representative status when it comes to bargaining in various areas of employment that they cover (Giudice, 2012). Before actualizing such status, unions should exhibit a greater level of employee support and membership. This would be an indication that they are putting the interests of all employees before any other needs.

Unlike unions in most countries, the Fair Work Act has provided Australian unions with more status and recognition at the national level. This means that even unions that do not enjoy majority support end up enjoying victory in a collective sense.

In industries where unions remain comparatively strong such as coal mining, airlines and construction, there have been consistent complaints from employers regarding the unions’ powers. There are minimal restrictions under the provision of Fair Work Act to reduce the unions’ ability in initiating industrial action meant to force employers to indulge in bargaining (Milner, 2016). Unions use the powers enshrined in the Act to expand on their bargaining agenda in order to attack managerial prerogatives.



Creighton, B. (2011). A Retreat from Individualism? The Fair Work Act 2009 and the Re-           collectivisation of Australian Labour Law. Industrial Law Journal, 40(2), 116-145.

Giudice, G. (2012). The review of the Fair Work Act and its implications. Melbourne Business     and Economics, 12, 19-25.

Milner, S. (2016). Trade unions, equality and diversity: An inconsistent record of transformative action. Work, Employment & Society.

Smith, R., Vromen, A., & Cook, I. (2012). Contemporary politics in Australia: Theories,   practices and issues. Port Melbourne, Vic.: Cambridge University Press.

Teicher, J., Holland, P., & Gough, R. (2013). Australian workplace relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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