Constructive relationship agreement with Thales Australia
Agreement offers new organizing opportunities for non-manual workers
AUSTRALIA: IMF-Australian affiliates AMWU and AWU together with three other unions recently concluded a constructive relationship agreement with the French company. According to this agreement Thales recognizes that "The workforce, at all levels and without regard to job function, whether directly or indirectly engaged, have the right to join and be represented by the appropriate union, this includes the right to bargain collectively in good faith, and to have appropriate union representation and information in the workplace". Thales further expects and encourages its other partners, i.e. contractors, to also respect workers' rights to organize and collective bargaining.
Mike Nicolaides, the AMWU's Technical, Supervisory and Administrative Division Secretary, welcomed this agreement by which the company formally recognizes the benefits of union membership and working with the trade unions. "Not only has the company signed a document but it is giving practical expression to the document in the workplace, facilitating contact between employees and the unions in largely un-unionised sites" Mike said.
This is an important breakthrough at a company which was hostile to union activity during the eleven years of conservative government in Australia. Recent changes in labour legislation introducing more protection for employees and greater powers for unions to achieve collective agreements have been instrumental in reaching this agreement.
Thales employs a total of 3,800 people in Australia in over 35 sites. Roughly 2,200 are covered by collective agreements in force. The other 1,600 are predominantly non-manual employees, covered by individual common law contracts or on expired collective agreements, and the vast bulk of them are non-unionised. The company's stated intention is to move towards a single national agreement over time to cover all employees.
The agreement provisions provide genuine opportunity for the unions to organize non-manual employees, to the benefit of those employees and the company's. The AMWU together with another union has started conducting focus groups and induction courses of the company's non-manual workers at certain bigger sites with some encouraging results. Dec 15, 2009 – Anne-Marie Mureau