The TWU and ASU have won an appeal against an earlier Fair Work Commission ruling on an enterprise agreement between Swissport and its workers.
The unions said the 2018 agreement forced workers to “struggle on a guarantee of just 60 hours a month and below award rates”.
In response, the ground operations company told Australian Aviation that the original deal was approved by 91 per cent of its workers and rescinding it would leave some of its staff up to $15,000 worse off.
So-called enterprise agreements exist within specific companies in order to offer employees a better deal and working conditions than they would get under existing rules. They are often negotiated between unions, businesses and staff.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said, “Swissport has spent four years fighting its own workers in expensive and lengthy court battles in an attempt to continue to rip them off with appalling conditions and below award rates.
“This decision is the latest case they have lost, again as the commission clearly states their agreement doesn’t meet minimum legal requirements. Our message to Swissport is to sit down with their workers and negotiate a fair deal which allows workers to support their families.”
Swissport, however, said the decision means its staff remain in “limbo” and criticised the “complexity” of Australia’s industrial relations system.
“Ironically the agreement, called CA18, delivered millions of dollars in backpay and would have seen the average Swissport worker up to $6,800 better off per year than the industry-wide award, and in many cases workers would have been more than $15,000 better off,” Swissport said in a statement.
The business’ APAC executive vice president, Glenn Rutherford, added, “The Full Bench took four months to find the FWC Commissioner could not work out, despite his best intentions, how to assess an agreement between workers and their employer – including the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT) question. If the FWC could not understand the rules, what hope is there for workers and employers?
“The current IR system is so complex that the expert tribunal, the Fair Work Commission, cannot adequately regulate it. No wonder Australian workers and employers are losing faith in the enterprise bargaining system.
“What this means is that it is becoming increasingly difficult and onerous for workers and their employers to navigate the enterprise bargaining system.”