Strike Ballots in Australia

Summary

This project examines the impact of the ballot requirement and statutory process on decision-making by bargaining representatives and subsequent employee access to industrial action in Australia.

Researchers

Project Background and Aims

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Australia) (Cth), employees wishing to take lawful industrial action in support of collective bargaining must first have authorised the action in a secret ballot. This mixed method empirical research project explores the effect of the statutory process by which a bargaining representative seeks permission from the Fair Work Commission to conduct a ballot. It examines the impact of the ballot requirement and statutory process on decision-making by bargaining representatives and subsequent employee access to industrial action. The first study of its kind, this Australian Research Council funded project involves researchers from Sydney University, Queensland University of Technology and RMIT. The work provides much needed insight into the effect of the regulatory scheme on enterprise bargaining behaviour.

Methodology

This research adopts an empirical (quantitative and qualitative components) and traditional/doctrinal analytical methods. The quantitative component involves descriptive and inferential statistical analysis of information contained in a database developed by the authors. The database captures information relating to all PABO applications submitted to the FWC during the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 (n = 1302). Qualitative data was drawn from 74 in-depth semi-structured interviews undertaken with applicants and respondents to PABO applications submitted to the FWC during July 2015-June 2016.

Outputs

  • Orchiston, A., Creighton, B., Denvir, C., Johnston, R. and McCrystal S. (In Press) Pre-Strike Ballots and Enterprise Bargaining Dynamics: An Empirical Analysis. Melbourne Law Review;
  • Creighton, B., Denvir, C., Johnston, R. McCrystal S., and Orchiston, A. (In Press) Pre-strike Ballots and Collective Bargaining: The Impact of Quorum and Ballot Mode Requirements on Access to Lawful Industrial Action. Industrial Law Journal;
  • Creighton, B., Denvir, C., Johnston, R. McCrystal S., and Orchiston, A. (In Press) The role of the ‘genuinely try to reach agreement’ requirement in the protected industrial action regime under the fair work act 2009. Australian Journal of Labour Law;
  • Creighton, B., Denvir, C., Johnston, R. and McCrystal S. (2018) Protected Industrial Action Ballots – An Empirical View. Journal of Industrial Relations, 60(1) 53-76;
  • Creighton, B., Denvir, C. and McCrystal S. (2017) Defining Industrial Action. Federal Law Review, 45(3), 383-414;
  • Creighton, B., Denvir, C. and McCrystal S. (2016) Strike Ballots and the Law in Australia. Australian Journal of Labour Law, 29 (2016), 154-170).
  • Denvir, C. and McCrystal S. ‘Researching Labour Law in Practice: Assessing the Impact of Protected Industrial Action Ballot Procedures on Enterprise Bargaining Processes’, in Howe, J., Chapman, A., and Landau, I. (2017) The Evolving Project of Labour Law. Melbourne: Federation Press