The Amcor Case currently before the High Court raises the question of the approach which should be taken to the interpretation of agreements made under the federal system of enterprise-based collective bargaining. The immediate issue is whether employees of a company whose business had been transferred to a related company became entitled to redundancy payments when their employer finally decided to cease employing them, even though the employees were immediately hired by the new business operator with no loss of entitlements. The case is therefore centrally concerned with the understanding of the term 'redundancy' under the certified agreement in question. This issue depends on the method used in determining the meaning of the agreement: whether it should be construed more like a contract or a statutory instrument. The court will be faced with the appellant employer's argument that the agreement should be read according to the generally assumed meaning of redundancy as a form of termination resulting in unemployment. Against this is the respondent union's view (accepted by the Full Federal Court) that the meaning of the agreement is limited to its strict terms, whether or not the employees became unemployed.
ANZSRC / FoR Code