When three unions involved at an aged care facility couldn’t agree on how to deal with an expired agreement, the Fair Work Commission took the unusual step of writing to the employees and asking them their opinion directly.
The problem for the FWC was that one union was in favour of terminating the old agreement, while the other two unions were opposed to terminating it. For its part, the employer took no stance and did not participate in the proceedings.
The various arguments for the different positions were put to the commission by the parties but the commissioner was not satisfied. She issued a formal statement in which the points of view of the three unions were set out. She then invited the employees to contact her chambers by email to express their opinions.
The Fair Work Act requires the commission to take into account the views of persons affected by the termination of an enterprise agreement. While it may be unusual, this FWC Statement demonstrates that before terminating an agreement, the commission will make whatever enquiries it sees fit, and in whatever manner it considers appropriate, before proceeding to determine the issues.