The University of Newcastle, Australia

Industrial tribunal spotlight

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A UON project will explore how industrial tribunals in the Hunter region are leading Australia in the proactive promotion of workplace co-operation.

Industrial tribunal

Funded as part of the Australian Research Council's (ARC) 2014 Linkage Projects, the study will aim to uncover more information about how tribunals operate, as well as demonstrate the contribution workplace co-operation makes to enhanced organisational performance.

One of the project's Chief Investigators, UON's Professor Mark Bray, said many Hunter organisations were enhancing their operations and increasing productivity by working with tribunals to develop measures to increase co-operation.

"Historically, the media tends to focus on the conflict that sometimes occurs in the workplace between employers, staff and trade unions," Professor Bray said.

"Our research explores how the relationships between those parties can be positive and beneficial to organisations as a whole.

"We've heard about a number of cases in the Hunter where the tribunal has worked effectively with the parties, leading to impressive results for co-operation and performance."

The two-year project has secured $117,000 in funding from the ARC, and will involve partnership with both the Fair Work Commission and the Newcastle branch of the Industrial Relations Society of NSW.

Professor Bray will be joined by fellow Chief Investigator, UON's Dr Johanna Macneil, as well as leading labour lawyer, Professor Andrew Stewart, from the University of Adelaide.

The project's case studies will involve a range of Hunter organisations from both the public and private sectors, including Port Stephens Council, Delta Electricity's Lake Macquarie power station and large-scale construction projects.

Dr Macneil said the study would aim to chronicle 'best practice' of the involved organisations.

"Those findings could then be applied by third parties, like Fair Work Australia, to become more effective in promoting co-operation between all involved," Dr Macneil said.

The ARC Linkage Projects program supports eligible research and development projects formed as collaborative efforts between higher education researchers and other parts of the national innovation system.

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