TASMANIAN INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION
Industrial Relations Act 1984
Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union
LAUNDRY AND DRY CLEANING AWARD
Wage rates - State Wage Case December 1993 - arbitrated safety net adjustment
REASONS FOR DECISION
In this matter the Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, Tasmanian Branch (the Union) sought the variation of the Laundry and Dry Cleaning Award to give effect to the $8.00 a week arbitrated safety net adjustment determined in the December 1993 State Wage Case.
Mr O'Brien for the Union requested the increase to be applied to the award submitting that a new award career structure had been finalised in the award and that the minimum rates adjustment process had been completed and therefore it was appropriate for the Commission to award the increase.
Mr Abey for the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Limited (TCCI) indicated in principle consent to the application. However he raised several matters for consideration by the Commission. The first was that TCCI considered it necessary for applicants to provide the TCCI with draft orders setting out the detail of the proposed variation so as to enable calculations to be checked and to make it clear what applicants actually required the Commission to endorse. Mr Abey submitted if draft orders were not provided then to the extent that this occasioned a delay in finalising proceedings, retrospectivity should not be granted in the event a decision on process as opposed to awarding the safety net adjustment is required. In other words until draft order are presented, claims for the $8.00 increase should be held over and the resultant delay should not give rise to a retrospective date of operation of the increase.
Mr O'Brien opposed that approach indicating that the Commission's requirement for draft orders was ordinarily a prospective requirement i.e. after a decision had been reached.
I concur with Mr O'Brien. I recognise the value of draft orders and for them to be exchanged between the parties prior to a hearing. That process can certainly expedite matters and indeed, as Mr Abey indicated, allow matters to be clarified between the parties before the hearing. However I take the view that it is the Commission's responsibility to issue the order(s) and in that regard the Commission may request the parties to prepare draft orders for its perusal. In the event that course is adopted by the Commission then the question of operative date has invariably been addressed and settled. I do not regard it as appropriate to adopt a procedure requiring exchange of draft orders before the proceedings to the extent that if this was not done there would be an adverse impact on the operative date. Suffice it to say I see great value, as I have said, for draft orders to be exchanged between the parties where that is possible; and I also recognise and appreciate their value to the Commission. However I do not go so far as to say that they should be a prerequisite with consequential impact on the operative date of any decision. Of course there have been many proceedings where the presentation of a draft order has assisted greatly in settling a particular application or where it has assisted to explain in clear detail the applicant's claim.
A further issue of concern to the TCCI was the intention of the Commission to provide for four columns setting out the Base Rate, Supplementary Payments columns (A) and (B) and the Weekly Wage Rate respectively for awards where the restructuring process had commenced or was completed. Mr Abey submitted that one column for supplementary payments was already confusing to employers and by adding a further column for the $8.00 a week increase that this would exacerbate the problem. He argued that a fourth column would detract from the clarity of the award in question. Mr Abey requested that the Commission further consider its position on this issue.
I indicated to Mr Abey that in my opinion the formatting of awards in the manner outlined by the Commission would facilitate rather than detract from the clarity of awards. In my view the separation of the minimum rates adjustment from the $8.00 increase in two supplementary payments columns (A) and (B) together with explanatory subclause provisions, best enables keeping track of wage adjustments that have been made. The other important aspect goes to the 100% tradespersons rate. Whilst that rate has increased since August 1989 (NWC) and November 1989 (SWC) the fact of the matter is that amounts in excess of $365.20 are absorbable against over awards. Therefore whilst the tradespersons' rate has increased over time to $417.20 (or $425.20 if the $8.00 is applied) amounts in excess of $365.20 have been able to be offset against over awards. It appears to me to make good sense to show separately in the supplementary payments columns (A) and (B) the differing origins of the supplementary payments able to be absorbed. I cannot answer Mr Abey's question as to what format should or will be adopted in the future and in that regard I accept that it is not practical to keep adding more and more columns. However at this stage I consider the Commission's format to be appropriate and will vary the award accordingly.
R K Gozzi
Date and Place of Hearing: