Summary: November Special Edition of the JIR
Journal of Industrial Relations, November 2011, volume 53(5)
Symposium - 'Fair Work Australia and the Legacy of the Commission'
Guest-edited by Professor Andrew Stewart, the November JIR is a special issue which examines the transition from the old national industrial tribunal to its replacement, Fair Work Australia. This issue of the journal looks back at the legacy of the Commission and forward to how FWA is coming to operate. This publication features Justice Geoff Giudice and Senior Deputy President Jennifer Acton along with leading scholars from across the country and different academic disciplines.
Introducing the issue, Professor Stewart writes:
Much has already been written about the 2009 ‘Fair Work’ legislation. Particular attention has been devoted to the new rules on collective bargaining, the restoration of unfair dismissal rights, the further expansion of the federal system at the expense of State regulation, the modernisation of the award system, and the creation of new ‘general protections’ against wrongful or discriminatory treatment at work.
There is another aspect of the reforms, however, that has perhaps not received the attention it deserves. This is the replacement of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) by a new agency, Fair Work Australia (FWA). As a tribunal whose primary role was to help resolve labour disputes, the AIRC could trace its lineage back to the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration created in 1904. Its replacement, FWA, has a broader range of functions, only some of which involve operating as a tribunal. FWA’s processes for approving enterprise agreements or setting minimum wages owe at least as much to the now-defunct Workplace Authority or Australian Fair Pay Commission as to the AIRC. Its procedures for making or varying modern awards have also now been divorced from any role in settling disputes. Yet in terms of membership and structure, there are clear signs of continuity in the new body.
These and other questions are explored in the November issue.
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