Fair Work Act to break Qantas strike?


Alan Joyce‘s apparent brinksmanship is exciting to watch. At least to a neutral observer like yours truly. The Qantas industrial action has been going on and has been otherwise boring but this swashbuckling Irishman wields quite a weapon.

The entire Qantas fleet has now been grounded and the Transport Minister said an application under the Fair Work Act would be made. Section 424 of the Fair Work Act says this:

424 FWA must suspend or terminate protected industrial action—endangering life etc.

Suspension or termination of protected industrial action

(1) FWA must make an order suspending or terminating protected industrial action for a proposed enterprise agreement that:

(a) is being engaged in; or

(b) is threatened, impending or probable;

if FWA is satisfied that the protected industrial action has threatened, is threatening, or would threaten:

(c) to endanger the life, the personal safety or health, or the welfare, of the population or of part of it; or

(d) to cause significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it.

(2) FWA may make the order:

(a) on its own initiative; or

(b) on application by any of the following:

(i) a bargaining representative for the agreement;

(ii) the Minister;

(iia) if the industrial action is being engaged in, or is threatened, impending or probable, in a State that is a referring State as defined in section 30B or 30L—the Minister of the State who has responsibility for workplace relations matters in the State;

(iib) if the industrial action is being engaged in, or is threatened, impending or probable, in a Territory—the Minister of the Territory who has responsibility for workplace relations matters in the Territory;

(iii) a person prescribed by the regulations.

Application must be determined within 5 days

(3) If an application for an order under this section is made, FWA must, as far as practicable, determine the application within 5 days after it is made.

Interim orders

(4) If FWA is unable to determine the application within that period, FWA must, within that period, make an interim order suspending the protected industrial action to which the application relates until the application is determined.

(5) An interim order continues in operation until the application is determined.

So it looks like at the most the industrial action should end no more than 5 days from the time the application is lodged (Monday?) but given the bloodletting this has caused, we’re probably going to get some form of orders by Monday. Otherwise many people’s Melbourne Cup day would turn into horse manure…

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