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AWU to develop national bargaining strategy

August 12, 2022

The AWU will develop a national bargaining strategy targeting big companies such as Boral, Hanson and John Holland that have exploited weaknesses in the industrial relations system to minimise wage rises across their Australian operations.

Starting with Boral, a pilot strategic-bargaining initiative will encourage collaboration among state branches to deliver uniform increases in pay and conditions for members Australia-wide.

A resolution passed at the recent AWU National Conference noted that AWU branches work hard to advance the position of members and that collective bargaining was at the heart of how the union delivered fair wages and conditions, made workplaces safer and addressed inequalities.

But in recent years, large national companies have employed deliberate strategies designed to deliver inequitable outcomes to members.

For example Boral, which operates at 83 locations across the country with 93 enterprise agreements covering 3600 workers, has different EAs with the AWU in every state, producing a 15 per cent wage difference between deals.

AWU national secretary Daniel Walton said Boral’s AWU members performed the same jobs and produced the same products across the nation and deserved to have the same wages and conditions.

“Companies such as Boral use the vagaries of the industrial system to break their bargaining down into tiny pieces and stop our members from harnessing the full power of their strong national union,” Mr Walton said.

“It’s classic divide-and-conquer tactics. Our new strategic bargaining approach will, I hope, counter their strategy effectively.

“We have incredible collective knowledge within our union but have been relying on fairly traditional methods of communication and collaboration.

“By better utilising modern collaboration options, we can present a strong, coherent front to the likes of Boral, John Holland and Hanson.”

The resolution noted Boral’s size and attitude made it the ideal organisation to implement the strategic bargaining pilot.

“The AWU has a strong membership density within Boral. In recent years, Boral has adopted an increasingly hostile stance at a branch level when dealing with the AWU and our members,” the resolution says.

“Boral is a behemoth, a market leader in its category. Its size and complexity require that the strategic bargaining pilot runs for a minimum period of three years.”

The National Conference resolution:

  • Recognised that the industrial landscape is changing, and national companies are deliberately taking advantage of a state by state, site by site-based approach to bargaining.
  • Recognised that the strategic-bargaining initiative will encourage collaboration among branches and deliver stronger outcomes for members.
  • Resolved that the AWU will begin a three-year pilot of the strategic-bargaining initiative focusing on Boral.
  • Resolved that the AWU would form a Strategic Bargaining Committee to implement and oversee the pilot, and report on the progress of the initiative to the next AWU National Conference.
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