protected industrial action

Australian labour law is primarily governed by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act).

A central feature of the Australian labour law system is collective enterprise-based bargaining between employers and their employees, who are usually represented by trade unions.

Recently, the Australian Federal Government has sought to introduce a number of changes to the bargaining system under the FW Act.  The Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014 proposes important changes to:

  • an employer’s ability to make a ‘greenfields’ agreement, a special type of collective agreement for the future workforce of a new venture; and
  • employee rights to engage in protected (or in other words, lawful) industrial action before bargaining has formally commenced.

This article provides a brief overview of these two proposed key changes, which are particularly relevant for companies operating in the Australian resources sector.