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Industrial Relations Essay

2519 words - 10 pages

Industrial RelationsOver the past decade, industrial relations in Australia have undergone considerable changes to reflect workplace reforms necessary to meet current and future global economic challenges.Industrial relations involve the relationship between the employers, those who provide work and the employees, those who are paid to do the work as well employer associations and regulatory institutions.As employers do not usually voluntarily increase and improve wages and working conditions for their employees, it has created the need to have organisations such as trade unions to negotiate on behalf of the workers. However, other organisations and the government also play a role in industrial relations. The role of the government is policy making (deciding what the rules will be), enforcement of conditions (making sure that they are followed) and the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission. This is an independent body that is responsible for checking and approving awards and agreements and dealing with disputes (www.qirc.qld.gov.au).New Legislation within the Mining IndustryWithin the last ten years, there have been many changes in industrial relations legislation that has affected the mining industry and the relationships in the workplace. Input from unions and employer associations have encouraged governments to make amendments to awards and employment agreements. Various awards and employment agreements establish employment conditions of mining employees.LegislationWorkplace Health and Safety Act 1995 (QLD)Workplace Relations Act 1997 (QLD)Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (QLD)Industrial Relations Act 1999Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 (QLD)Under this act, employers must ensure the health and safety of each of their workers, themselves and others. The employers and supervisors who are in control of the workplace are obliged to provide safe access to and from the workplace, and to minimise the risk of injury or disease from any plant or substance to any person whether or not they are their workers. Any breaches of obligations may be prosecuted resulting in severe penalties (Beck:1998:pg53).Unions have had a major influence in the development of this act by demanding improvement for their workers safety. A specific example of union pressure on government to review safety happened after the 1994 Moura mine disaster in which 11 men died. "Strong views were expressed by unions from both sectors of the mining industry that the inspectorate were not very effective in ensuring that mine management were complying with safety and health standards," the report said, "Concerns were raised that mine inspections have been a hit and miss process seen to be ad hoc and sometimes superficial" (www.macnet.mq.edu.au). Through union pressure, the government approved the recommendations for increases to resourcing, staffing and funding for the mining inspectorate.Workplace Relations Act 1997 (QLD)The new Workplace Relations Act 1997 (QLD) is designed to...

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