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Tasmanian Industrial Commission
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Industrial Relations Act 1984
s23 application for an award or variation of an award

Australian Municipal, Administrative, Clerical and Services Union
(T6107 of 1996)


See end of Decision for Awards Varied



22 MARCH 1996

Award variation - vary meal allowance by deleting existing amount and inserting $9.25 - application approved - orders to issue operative from the ffpp on or after 22 March 1996


This application, made under section 23 of the Industrial Relations Act 1984 by the Australian Municipal, Administrative Clerical and Services Union (AMACSU), sought to vary a number of awards by increasing to $9.25 the amount provided for a meal allowance, however described.

The application was amended to apply to the following awards:

Aerated Waters Award
Barristers and Solicitors Award
Broadcasting and Television Award
Chemists Award
Clerical and Administrative Employees (Private Sector) Award
Disability Service Providers Award
Estate Agents Award
Fuel Merchants Award
Furnishing Trades Award
Insurance Award
Independent Schools (Non Teaching Staff) Award
Marine Boards Award
Meat Trades Award
Medical Practitioners Award
Public Accountants Award
Restaurant Keepers Award
Shipping Award
Softgoods Award
Textile Award
Totalizator Agency Award
Wholesale Trades Award

In its submissions in support of the application, the AMACSU provided a number of exhibits and in particular relied upon:-

  • Matter No. T5763 of 1995, the Full Bench decision of the Commission dated 20 October 1995 increasing the meal allowance, however described, in a number of awards of the Commission to $9.25.

  • The reasons given in that Full Bench decision, that is, the same relevant Australian Bureau of Statistics Consumer Price Index increases and the reasons for the previous common rule decision on increasing meal allowances in October 1981.

  • The requirements of the Allowances Principle in the Wage Fixing Principles of the Commission.

The AMACSU also tendered a list detailing the awards, the clause numbers and the amounts to be deleted and replaced with $9.25.

The AMACSU submitted in addition that it was in the public interest that the application be granted and requested that the date of operation of the increase be the date of decision.

The other unions present at the hearing supported the application and the submissions of the AMACSU.

The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Limited (the Chamber) opposed the granting of the application, saying it was inappropriate to increase the amount of the allowance without reviewing the conditions governing its payment, especially as the amount was so much greater than before.

The Chamber argued that the AMACSU could not rely solely on the Allowances Principle of the Commission's Wage Fixing Principles when no consideration had been given to the Structural Efficiency Principle (SEP). The Chamber went further and submitted that since there was no SEP benefit or consideration in the application, it should be dismissed.

The Chamber also submitted that the application should be rejected because it would involve a substantial cost impost and penalty on employers and that the increase was a de facto wage rise. It argued that there was no justification for the increase and it was against the public interest.


In deciding to grant the application before us we rely on the fact that an earlier Full Bench of this Commission1 dealt with the level of existing meal allowances contained in 26 other awards. That Full Bench comprehensively reviewed the history of the allowance and a range of data and arguments placed before it, and by decision dated 20 October 1995 determined that the allowance as prescribed in those awards be increased to $9.25.

That earlier Full Bench also commented in its Reasons for Decision that:

"It is desirable that allowances such as this are reviewed and adjusted where appropriate on a regular basis."


"The present disparate situation is we consider, evidence of the need for regular, across the board reviews based upon the relevant Consumer Price Index movements for allowances such as this."

And that:

"We consider that a consistent method for reviewing the allowance is to be preferred, but having said that we consider that a general review of the base amount might well be necessary in the future."

We also note that an identical claim for the meal allowance to be increased to $9.25, made by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, Tasmanian Branch relating to the Retail Trades Award, was granted by Commissioner Watling on 1 March 19962, wherein he relied upon the Reasons for Decision of the Full Bench in T.5763 of 1995.

Given these circumstances it is our view the matter before us to vary the meal allowance (as variously described) in the 21 awards listed represents no more than a flow-on of a matter decided by another Full Bench in T.5763 of 1995.

We do not accept the Chamber's argument that the earlier Full Bench misapplied the Commission's Wage Fixing Principles by not linking the Structural Efficiency Principle to the Allowances Principle. We say that the two principles stand alone and that the provisions of the clause governing the conditions under which the allowance should be paid have no relevance to the determination of the cost of a reasonable meal for the purposes of the allowance.

The Allowances Principle provides that:

"9.1.1 Existing allowances which constitute a reimbursement of expenses incurred may be adjusted from time to time where appropriate to reflect the relevant changes in the level of such expenses."

and this is the only Principle which is relevant in this matter.

If, as the Chamber argued, there should be a review of meal allowance provisions in private sector awards and a `model clause' created as has been foreshadowed, then that should be treated as a separate issue and considered on individual merit after all parties have had the opportunity to review the full extent of such a proposal.

We also say that as a matter of equity and consistency with public interest it is proper to flow on the earlier Full Bench decision and increase the meal allowance in the 21 awards before us to $9.25. We point out that this will leave approximately 45 private sector awards which to date have not been made the subject of a similar application.

The orders reflecting this decision will operate from the first full pay period on or after 22 March 1996, and will be issued by the individual members of the Commission responsible.

Mrs H J Dowd for the Australian Municipal, Administrative, Clerical and Services Union
Mr G Cooper for the Australian Workers' Union, Tasmania Branch
Mr C Brown for the Health Services Union of Australia, Tasmania No. 1 Branch
Mr P Griffin for the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, Tasmanian Branch
Mr J W Gill for the Transport Workers' Union of Australia, Tasmanian Branch and for the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, Tasmanian Branch
Mr S J Gates with Mr A Cameron and Ms J Thomas for the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Limited; the Australian Mines and Metals Association (Incorporated); the Meat and Allied Trades' Federation of Australia (Tasmanian Division); the Metal Industries Association Tasmania; Tasmanian Sawmillers Industrial Association, and the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Employers Association

Date and place of hearing:
March 15

1 T5763 of 1995
2 T6065 of 1996

Awards Varied:
Aerated Waters
Barristers and Solicitors
Clerical and Administrative Employees (Private Sector)
Disability Service Providers
Estate Agents
Fuel Merchants
Furnishing Trades
Independent Schools (Non-Teaching) Staff
Meat Trades
Medical Practitioners (Private Sector)
Public Accountants
Restaurant Keepers
Totalizator Agency
Wholesale Trades