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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Labour

WORKPLACE RELATIONS

Workplace relations can be regarded as the relationships and interactions in the labour market between employers and employees (and their representatives), and the intervention in these relations by governments, government agencies and tribunals (e.g. Fair Work Australia).

Historically, governments have regulated the Australian labour market to varying degrees. Changes to the structure or processes underpinning the workplace relations environment have generally followed changes in governments, and periods of social or economic change. For most of the last century, employee-employer relationships were shaped by highly centralised Commonwealth and state tribunal-based systems of conciliation and arbitration. However, since the late 1980s, the workplace relations environment in Australia has undergone significant change and is now characterised by more decentralised arrangements.

The field of workplace relations is complex and diverse and, for statistical purposes, is not easily measured. The ABS collects information on a number of topics to provide an insight into the state of the workplace relations environment, including the methods used for setting pay (i.e. awards, collective agreements and individual arrangements), industrial disputes and trade union membership.


HOW PAY IS SET

Information on the methods of setting the main part of employees' pay is collected in the Employee Earnings and Hours (EEH) survey. Three different methods of setting pay are identified – awards, collective agreements, and individual arrangements.

Awards only. Awards are legally enforceable determinations, made by federal or state industrial tribunals that set the terms of employment (pay and/or conditions), usually in a particular industry or occupation. An award may be the sole mechanism used to set the pay and/or conditions for an employee or group of employees, or alternatively may be used in conjunction with an individual or collective agreement. Employees are classified to the Award only category if they were paid at the rate of pay specified in the award pay scale. If an employee was paid more than the rate of pay specified in the award, they are included in the individual arrangement or collective agreement category as appropriate.

Collective agreements include enterprise and workplace agreements and are agreements between an employer (or group of employers) and a group of employees (or one or more unions or employee associations representing employees). Collective agreements set the terms of employment (pay and/or conditions) for a group of employees, and are usually registered with a federal or state industrial tribunal or authority. Employees are classified to the Collective agreement category if they had the main part of their pay set by a registered or unregistered collective agreement or enterprise award.

Individual arrangements are arrangements between an employer and an individual employee on the terms of employment (pay and/or conditions) for the employee. Common types of individual arrangements are individual contracts, letters of offer and common law contracts. An individual contract (or letter of offer) may specify all terms of employment, or alternatively may reference an award for some conditions and/or in the setting of pay (e.g. over award payments). Individual contracts may also be registered with a federal or state industrial tribunal or authority, for example, as an Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA). However, the Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Act 2008 (Cwlth) ceased the registration of individual agreements from 28 March 2008. Employees are classified to the Individual arrangement category if they have the main part of their pay set by an individual contract, registered individual agreement (e.g. AWA), common law contract or if they receive over award payments by individual agreement.

In May 2010, 43% of employees had their pay set by collective agreement, 37% by an individual arrangement and 15% of employees had their pay set by award only. Owner managers of incorporated businesses accounted for 4% of employees (graph 8.47).

Collective agreements have been the most common method of setting pay for the past decade, with the proportion of employees whose pay was set by this method increasing by 7 percentage points from May 2000 (37%) to May 2010 (43%). The proportion of employees with their pay set by an individual arrangement has increased by 3 percentage points in the 10 years to May 2010, from 34% to 37%. In a sign of the shift away from centralised pay setting arrangements, the proportion of employees whose pay was set by award only has decreased 8 percentage points from 23% in May 2000 to 15% in May 2010.


8.47 Methods of setting pay


In May 2010, nearly half (46%) of all employees in the private sector had their pay set by an individual arrangement and a further 30% of employees in the private sector had their pay set by a collective agreement. In contrast, almost all (97%) public sector employees had their pay set by a collective agreement (table 8.48).

The proportion of female employees who had their pay set by award only was 18%, compared with 13% of male employees. Collective agreements were a more common method of setting pay for female employees (48%) than individual arrangements (32%), while individual arrangements were more common amongst male employees (42%) than collective agreements (39%). Male employees were more likely (6%) to be owner managers of incorporated enterprises than female employees (2%).


8.48 METHODS OF SETTING PAY, Proportion of employees, By sector—May 2010

Award only
Collective agreement(a)
Individual arrangement(b)
Owner manager of incorporated Enterprise
All methods of setting pay
Sector
%
%
%
%
%

MALES

Private Sector
15.0
28.2
49.8
7.0
100.0
Public Sector
np
96.0
np
. .
100.0
All Sectors
12.6
39.2
42.3
5.9
100.0

FEMALES

Private Sector
23.5
31.3
42.1
3.1
100.0
Public Sector
**—
98.1
1.9
. .
100.0
All Sectors
17.8
47.6
32.3
2.3
100.0

PERSONS

Private Sector
19.0
29.7
46.1
5.2
100.0
Public Sector
**–
97.2
2.7
. .
100.0
All Sectors
15.2
43.4
37.3
4.1
100.0

** estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated
— nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
. . not applicable
(a) Includes registered and unregistered collective agreements.
(b) Includes registered and unregistered individual arrangements.
Source: Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia (6306.0).


The use of the various methods of setting pay differs between occupation groups (table 8.49). Professionals (57%) recorded the highest proportion of employees paid by collective agreement, while Managers (26%) recorded the lowest proportion. Individual arrangements were the most common method of setting pay for Managers (55%), Clerical and administrative workers (48%) and Technicians and trades workers (44%). Community and personal service workers (31%), Labourers (28%), and Sales workers (23%) recorded the highest proportions of employees paid by award only.


8.49 METHODS OF SETTING PAY, Proportion of employees, By occupation(a)—May 2010

Award only
Collective agreement(b)
Individual arrangement(c)
Owner manager of incorporated enterprise
All methods of setting pay
Occupation Group
%
%
%
%
%

Managers
2.2
25.5
55.0
17.3
100.0
Professionals
3.3
57.4
35.4
3.9
100.0
Technicians and trades workers
19.5
30.5
44.3
5.7
100.0
Community and personal service workers
31.0
51.8
16.7
*0.4
100.0
Clerical and administrative workers
9.3
39.1
48.3
3.3
100.0
Sales workers
23.5
43.3
31.4
1.8
100.0
Machinery operators and drivers
11.6
45.9
39.9
2.5
100.0
Labourers
27.9
42.8
28.5
*0.9
100.0
Total all occupations
15.2
43.4
37.3
4.1
100.0

* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
(a) Classified according to ANZSCO – Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, First Edition, Revision 1, 2009 (1220.0).
(b) Includes registered and unregistered collective agreements.
(c) Includes registered and unregistered individual arrangements.
Source: Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia (6306.0).


The industries with the highest proportion of employees with their pay set by collective agreements were Public administration and safety (92%) and Education and training (84%) (table 8.50). This is consistent with the high proportion of employees in the public sector who had their pay set by collective agreements (97%). The Accommodation and food services industry had the highest proportion of employees (45%) with their pay set by award only. Individual arrangements were most common in the Professional, scientific and technical services (71%) and Wholesale trade (70%) industries.


8.50 METHODS OF SETTING PAY, Proportion of employees, By industry(a)—May 2010

Award only
Collective agreement(b)
Individual arrangement(c)
Owner manager of incorporated enterprise
All methods of setting pay
Industry Division
%
%
%
%
%

Mining
**1.9
41.5
55.7
*0.9
100.0
Manufacturing
14.6
26.3
55.8
3.2
100.0
Electricity, gas, water and waste services
*3.0
67.0
28.6
1.4
100.0
Construction
10.0
23.1
55.4
11.5
100.0
Wholesale trade
10.9
12.3
70.2
6.6
100.0
Retail trade
22.3
41.0
33.1
3.6
100.0
Accommodation and food services
45.2
30.1
23.1
1.7
100.0
Transport, postal and warehousing
8.0
52.2
33.9
5.9
100.0
Information media and telecommunications
5.8
31.3
59.2
3.8
100.0
Financial and insurance services
2.1
42.6
50.5
4.8
100.0
Rental, hiring and real estate services
22.8
9.5
59.6
8.1
100.0
Professional, scientific and technical services
4.2
11.9
71.4
12.5
100.0
Administrative and support services
31.4
27.2
39.3
2.2
100.0
Public administration and safety
*1.9
92.3
5.4
*0.4
100.0
Education and training
5.1
84.1
10.4
*0.4
100.0
Health care and social assistance
17.1
64.1
17.3
1.5
100.0
Arts and recreation services
15.1
46.0
36.4
*2.5
100.0
Other services
27.2
9.8
55.2
7.9
100.0
Total all industries
15.2
43.4
37.3
4.1
100.0

* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
** estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use
(a) Classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (Revision 1.0) (1292.0).
(b) Includes registered and unregistered collective agreements.
(c) Includes registered and unregistered individual arrangements.
Source: Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia (6306.0).


INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES

The ABS defines an industrial dispute as a disagreement over an issue or group of issues between an employer and its employees, which results in employees ceasing work. Industrial disputes comprise: strikes, which are a withdrawal from work by a group of employees; and lockouts, which are a refusal by an employer or group of employers to permit some or all of their employees to work.

This section presents statistics on industrial disputes involving work stoppages of ten or more working days lost. 'Working days lost' refers to all working days lost by employees directly and indirectly involved in the dispute. Directly involved employees are those who actually participated in the dispute. Indirectly involved employees are those who were stood down at the location where the stoppage occurred, but who were not themselves parties to the dispute.

Graph 8.51 shows that the number of working days lost per year, and the number of employees involved, fluctuate from year to year, but have steadily decreased over the last three decades and are currently at historically low levels.

8.51 Industrial Disputes


From 2008 to 2010, the average number of working days lost per dispute decreased from 1,110 to 558 (table 8.52). However, there were more disputes in 2010 than in 2008 (227 compared with 177). The number of employees involved in industrial disputes decreased from 172,900 in 2008 to 54,800 in 2010. There was also a decrease in the total number of working days lost due to industrial disputes from 196,500 working days lost in 2008 to 126,600 working days lost in 2010.

8.52 INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES

Working days lost per dispute
Disputes
Employees involved
Working days lost
no.
no.
’000
’000

2006
656
202
122.7
132.6
2007
368
135
36.0
49.7
2008
1 110
177
172.9
196.5
2009
562
236
89.3
132.7
2010
558
227
54.8
126.6

Source: Industrial Disputes, Australia, Mar 2011 (6321.0.55.001).


Table 8.53 shows that from 2009 to 2010, the number of working days lost per thousand employees in all industries decreased from 14 to 13. The Mining, Manufacturing and Construction industries recorded increases between 2009 and 2010. The Coal mining industry recorded the largest increase in working days lost per thousand employees between 2009 and 2010 (from 23 to 509) and the Education and training and Health care and social assistance industries recorded the largest decrease in working days lost per thousand employees (from 24 to 6).


8.53 WORKING DAYS LOST PER THOUSAND EMPLOYEES, By selected industries(a)

2009
2010
Industry
no.
no.

Mining
Coal
23.0
509.1
Other
2.1
6.2
Manufacturing
Metal products etc
32.0
68.3
Other
15.7
20.7
Construction
34.0
42.4
Transport, postal and warehousing
33.5
16.3
Education and training; Health care and social assistance
24.2
6.0
Other industries(b)
2.7
2.1
All industries
14.0
12.8

(a) Classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (Revision 1.0) (1292.0).
(b) Includes: Electricity, gas, water and waste services; Wholesale trade; Retail trade; Professional, scientific and technical services; Accommodation and food services; Financial and insurance services; Rental, hiring and real estate services; Information media and telecommunications; Administrative and support services; Public administration and safety; Arts and recreation services, and Other services.
Source: ABS data available on request, Industrial Disputes collection.


TRADE UNION MEMBERSHIP

A trade union is defined as an organisation, consisting predominantly of employees, whose principal activities include the negotiation of rates of pay and conditions of employment for its members. In August 2010, there were 1.8 million employees who were trade union members in their main job. This represented 18% of all employees. Table 8.54 shows that in 2010 the public sector had a higher proportion of employees with trade union membership in their main job than the private sector (41% compared with 14%).


8.54 TRADE UNION MEMBERSHIP, In main job—August 2010

Males
Females
Persons
Sector
%
%
%

Public
41.5
41.5
41.5
Private(a)
14.5
12.8
13.8
All sectors
17.9
18.7
18.3

(a) Includes employees for whom sector of main job could not be determined.
Source: Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership, Australia (6310.0).


Graph 8.55 shows that the rate of trade union membership peaked at 61% in 1962, before declining rapidly between 1962 and 1970. This period was followed by increasing membership during the 1970s. Since then, the proportion of employees who are trade union members has steadily declined.

8.55 TRADE UNION MEMBERSHIP, Proportion of employees who were trade union members



Some of the factors contributing to the decline in trade union membership include the changing workplace relations environment and the changing industry composition of the workforce, for example, the emergence of industries that are not highly unionised. Another factor in the decline in trade union membership is the increase in part-time and casual employment. These types of employment have historically been less unionised than full-time employment.

Graph 8.56 shows that the level of trade union membership varied considerably across industries, with the Education and training (39%) and Electricity, gas, water and waste services (37%) industries having the highest levels of trade union membership in 2010. The industries with the lowest levels were Agriculture, forestry and fishing (2%), Professional, scientific and technical services (3%), Rental, hiring and real estate services and Accommodation and food services (both at 4%).


8.56 EMPLOYEES WHO WERE TRADE UNION MEMBERS, By industry(a)—August 2010


Graph 8.57 shows that the level of trade union membership also varied considerably across occupation groups, with Machinery operators and drivers (27%) and Professionals (25%) having the highest proportions of trade union members in 2010. The occupation group with the lowest level of trade union membership was Managers (9%).


8.57 Employees who were trade union members, By occupation, August 2010

 

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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.

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