Right of Individuals to Apply to bring an Individual Dispute to the SA Industrial Relations Commission
Our firm acts for the Ambulance Employees Association and its members.
In a dispute filed with the SA Industrial Commission a few months ago, on behalf of both an individual paramedic and the Union, the State Industrial Commission considered whether it had jurisdiction to deal with an individual member’s application disputing a decision of the employer, SA Health. The State Government argued in this case that the Industrial Commission did not have jurisdiction as it had its own internal grievance dispute process.
Deputy President Bartel examined section 194 of the Fair Work Act 1994 (SA). The Commission held that the issue before it related to the disciplinary processes and procedures of the SA Ambulance Service. She noted that one aspect of the Dispute sought to remedy the past conduct of the Ambulance Service in respect to one employee, but the Association also sought to modify the future operation of the disciplinary procedures and processes which, if granted, would potentially affect all members of the AEA and other employees covered by the relevant Enterprise Agreement.
The Commission found that it did have jurisdiction to deal with this matter. It noted that the AEA could pursue in its own right an industrial dispute before the Commission involving one of its members. It also found that the State Government failed to recognise the special role and status of Unions under the Act. The matter concerning this particular individual was a matter of concern to AEA members generally. The Deputy President found that you could not in such a case separate the Union member’s grievance form the Union that is legitimately pursuing the claim on the employee’s behalf.
As a result of this decision, the AEA were free to pursue Conferences in the Commission with the possibility of the dispute being arbitrated by the Commission. This outcome does show the importance of individual employees being members of a Union and having the support of the Union to bring their individual grievances to the Industrial Commission. Johnston Withers has acted for the AEA and paramedics in relation to employment and industrial matters for many years now.
If you need advice relating to a building dispute or if you are a subcontractor and have any concerns about not being paid promptly, please contact Graham Harbord or any other member of our Employment Law team to discuss your rights on 8231 1110.