Enterprise bargaining and a minimum wage safety net 1991–1996
In the National Wage Case October 1991 the Commission continued the availability of the April 1991 increase. It also provided for a new Enterprise Bargaining Principle, under which an enterprise agreement might be approved if certain tests were met, including that wage increases were ‘based on the actual implementation of efficiency measures designed to effect real gains in productivity’. The Commission said that the submissions of the parties supported the introduction of enterprise bargaining but also ‘revealed a diversity of opinions and a failure to confront practical problems’. It said that there was ‘little prospect ... that further postponement will lead to more fully developed proposals or to the resolution of the points of disagreement’.
In the Wage Fixing Principles Decision October 1993, the Commission continued to make available structural efficiency increases, and provided for an additional $8 increase to be generally available award by award.
In the August 1994 Review of Wage Fixing Principles, the Commission handed down a new package of principles. The principles made earlier increases available, without establishing new increases. The principles did not include the ‘no extra claims’ commitment, and described the role of awards as a ‘safety net’ for enterprise bargaining.
In the Third Safety Net Adjustment Decision of October 1995, the Commission provided for earlier increases including the October 1993 first $8, and a second adjustment of $8 from September 1994 at enterprise level, subject to certain tests, and a second $8 at award level from March 1995, subject to tests including a six month gap with the last award increase. It provided for a third $8 at enterprise level from September 1995, and at award level from March 1996, subject to various tests such as a 12 month gap between the second and third safety net increases.
A new ‘minimum wage’ clause was established to be included in awards, linked not to needs but to the minimum classification rate in most federal awards. This was the rate of the C14 classification in the Metal Industry Award. All awards were linked to the rates in that award as a result of the August 1989 structural efficiency reviews.