Union squabble misses its Target

When Target Stores needed to renew its enterprise agreement this year, it thought it would be dealing with the shop assistant’s union (the SDA). But the NUW  which covers warehousing employees decided to muscle in, and persuaded some SDA members to join their union. The NUW then said it was entitled to a seat at the bargaining table.

But Fair Work Australia (FWA) disagreed, and said that the SDA members might have resigned and joined the NUW, but they had not revoked their representative authorities which the SDA still held. Under the Fair Work Act, this meant that unless and until those employees wrote to their employer, Target, saying they no longer were represented by the SDA, but now by the NUW, then NUW could not expect that seat at the table.

FWA went on to say that while that could easily be accomplished, the fact remained that it hadn’t been done and it has to be done to allow the representative changes to be officially recognised.

Employers need to be satisfied that anyone who claims to represent employees in enterprise bargaining negotiations has been properly authorised to do so, and employers should not hesitate to seek evidence where there is any doubt or in any case of a union coverage dispute.

NUW, NSW Branch v Target Australia Pty Limited [2012] FWA 5719 (9 July 2012)