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December 14, 2018

The threat by Seven West Media to terminate its enterprise agreement is the latest example of a company using the threat of termination during bargaining.

Since the Aurizon decision in 2015, it has become too easy for employers to pass the legal test to have enterprise agreements terminated against the wishes of employees.

It has also led to more and more employers using the threat of termination of expired agreements as weapons during bargaining.

Employers should not be able to threaten the nuclear option of having an agreement terminated and workers thrown back onto the award - losing pay and conditions bargained for in some cases over many decades – as a negotiating strategy.

It acts as a disincentive to bargain collectively and in good faith.

If elected, a Shorten Labor government will change the law in order to redress the imbalance in bargaining power between workers, their unions, and employers. We will prevent employers from too easily resorting to the nuclear option of terminating enterprise agreements.

In stark contrast, despite average annual wage increase in new private sector enterprise agreements hitting a 25 year record low under the Liberal government, they are cheering on employers to terminate agreements.

Who could forget when the then Minister for Education Simon Birmingham, encouraged other universities to do as Murdoch University did in August last year – abandon bargaining with their workforce, apply to terminate their enterprise agreement, and effectively slash their employees’ wages by more than 30 per cent.

When you have a government which calls for employers to terminate enterprise agreements, there is no doubt that they put profits before people, and have no interest in enterprise bargaining.

At a time when wages growth has hit record lows, Morrison and his Liberals would rather support employers wishing to cut conditions of employment, rather than support workers and wages.