J. Whale

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Whale, J, Enterprise bargaining and agreements under the Workplace Relations Act, 1996 and their appreciation to the NSW coal mining industry, in Aziz, N (ed), Coal 1998: Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 1998, 1-15.


The Australian industrial relations system is in a state of constant change. We are undergoing a transformation from a compulsory arbitration and an award based system to one which is fundamentally rooted in the concepts of enterprise bargaining. This is true both at the State and Federal level. The structural changes which facilitate the movement away from the predominance of Awards to enterprise agreements has been fostered by both sides of the political spectrum and is a cornerstone of their respective industrial relations platforms. In detemlining what fonD or combination of fonDS of industrial instrument(s) should apply to the individual enterprise. employers must have regard to the viability and sustainability of each form in the changing industrial climate. In particular employers should have regard to the needs and agendas of their employees and unions which may purport to represent them. This paper traces the Federal legislative changes and fleshes out the industrial instrument options available to parties under the Workplace Relations Act, 1996 and gives an industrial relations practitioner's perspective upon the viability of those options and how they match contemporary human resource practice.