Non-union bargaining: Enterprise flexibility agreements

Amanda Coulthard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


One of the key objectives of the Industrial Relations Reform Act 1993 (Cwlth) is to develop an industrial relations system in Australia based on enterprise bargaining. To make enterprise bargaining accessible to the non-union sector the legislative framework provides for the making of enterprise flexibility agreements. These agreements can be made directly between employer and employees without union involvement where the workforce is not unionized. It has thus been popularly referred to as the 'non-union' bargaining stream. This article examines the extent to which the legislation on enterprise flexibility agreements does provide for non-union workplace bargaining. It does so by examining the way in which the legislation provides for union involvement at the various stages in the process of negotiating and formalizing an enterprise flexibility agreement. The provision in the legislation of a formal system of non-union bargaining has been criticized as posing a threat to the traditional representational role played by unions in Australian industrial relations. In this context, the role of the Bargaining Division of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in facilitating bargaining and its decisions concerning the rights of a union to represent employees in their negotiations with the employer are also considered. Finally, some conclusions are offered as to why only a relatively small number of enterprise flexibility agreements have been approved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-358
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1996


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