T1706 and T1707
IN THE TASMANIAN INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION
Industrial Relations Act 1984
The applications made by the Royal Australian Nursing Federation, Tasmanian Branch were for the purpose of varying nursing classifications contained in the Hospitals Award and Medical Practitioners (Private Sector) Award by 3% and $10.00 as a result of the State Wage Case decision (T1524, 1525, 1549 & 1550 of 1988).
Before any increases emanating from that decision were granted, all unions were requested to give the required commitment to the Wage Fixation Principles.
A special hearing was convened on 9 September 1988 to take that commitment from all trade unions.
The RANF declined to give the commitment on that day.
The decision went on to state:
"(g) It is not the Commission's intention to approve agreements or arbitrate any increases to wages or salaries or any other award improvements unless all unions party to an award give a commitment in the prescribed form.
However, in the isolated case where commitments are not forthcoming from all unions party to the award, a member of the Commission may vary a certain Division(s) contained in the award where he is satisfied the particular classifications are clearly delineated and all unions whose members are covered under that Division have given the required commitment. This will only be done after hearing submissions from all parties to the award or agreement. In each case the question of the operative date of the award will be left to the Commissioner concerned."
All sections of the Hospitals Award and Medical Practitioners (Private Sector) Award except nursing classifications were varied as the Hospital Employees Federation of Australia Tasmania No. 1 & 2 Branches (the other major employee organisation party to the awards) had given the required commitment at the designated hearing.
The State Wage Case Full Bench made it very clear on page 25 of its decision that:
"(d) Awards not varied as a result of the hearing on 9 September 1988 will be dealt with on individual merit at a later date and be the subject of a separate application. The operative date of this decision may not automatically apply to those awards."
These applications form part of the "separate application" referred to above.
Mr. Grant, representing the RANF, informed the Commission that his organisation was now prepared to give the commitment to the Wage Fixation Principles in respect of the two previously-mentioned awards.
The commitment was couched in the following terms:
"The union undertakes, until 1 July 1989, not to pursue any extra claims, award or overaward, except when consistent with the State Wage Case Principles.
The union agrees that it will co-operate in a review (to be monitored by the Commission) of the award to give effect to the Structural Efficiency Principle. In this regard, it is noted that it is not intended that this principle will be applied in a negative cost-cutting manner or to formalise illusory, short-term benefits. Its purpose is to facilitate the type of fundamental review essential to ensure that existing award structures are relevant to modern competitive requirements of industry and are in the best interests of both management and workers."
I can only presuppose that the two awards for which the RANF gave the commitment are, prima facie, the only awards in which they now have an interest, having sought and gained federal award coverage for their members in the public sector.
The State Wage Case decision requires that I satisfy myself as to the genuineness of the commitment.
I have some difficulty with this question as the RANF has, in the recent past, demonstrated that, in the final analysis, it is prepared to embark on an industrial campaign to achieve improvements in salary rates outside the Wage Fixation Principles, if it suits them irrespective of their written commitment to support the system.
This makes me ask the question "Why should the Commission accept the genuineness of the written commitment on this occasion?".
However, after considering all aspects of this matter, including the submissions of the HEF1&2 and the Tasmanian Confederation of Industries that I should accept the commitment and vary the awards in the manner sought, I have arrived at the conclusion, albeit with some apprehension, that I should accept, on face value, the RANF's commitment to the Wage Fixation Principles.
As a consequence, the awards will be varied in the manner sought.
In doing so, I want it known that non adherence to the spirit and intent of the Wage Fixation Principles in the future will cause me to review this decision.
Mr. Imlach, representing the HEF1&2 sought an operative date of the first full pay period to commence on or after 15 September 1988 and the first full pay period to commence on or after 15 March 1989, as his organisation gave the commitment in the required form on the day specified.
It was his submission that members of his organisation who occupy nursing classifications within the awards should not be disadvantaged.
On the other hand, Mr. Grant sought an operative date of the first full pay period to commence on or after 22 November 1988 and the first full pay period to commence on or after 22 May 1989, the first date being the day of the hearing.
This aspect of Mr. Grant's submission was supported by Mr. Fitzgerald, representing the TCI.
It is my decision that the awards will be varied in line with the submissions made by the RANF and TCI.
Orders giving effect to this decision are attached.