07/03/2014Bargaining Strategy, Bargaining, Negotiation, Enterprise Agreements, Industrial Action


By Fred Bolling* and Steve Champion*

The Government's hands-off approach also applies to the current industrial relations legislative landscape. The Federal Government has indicated there will be no significant changes to industrial relations laws until after the next federal election.

As a result, employers have a relatively change free environment in which to operate until at least 2017.

So what does this mean for employers?

For the vast majority of employers, it doesn’t really matter what legislation applies to their employee relations environment. They will continue to do what they have always done. But will that be enough?

What is more important for this majority is whether they take the time to appropriately prepare and resource to renew their existing Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA), or to establish their first EBA that truly suits their business needs. By taking advantage of this time of relative stability in IR legislation, managers who are responsible for negotiating EBAs can start a new era where they can match – or even outdo – their union counterparts.

Today, when it comes time to begin the negotiating process, managers have been quite rightly preoccupied with the core tasks of running their business. Contrast this with the state of preparedness of union and employee representative officials for whom EBA negotiation is a bread and butter everyday task.

We strongly encourage employers to start right now to build internal capability and external expert relationships for their next EBA negotiation. This includes gaining a full understanding of their bargaining environment, their relative bargaining power and the key negotiation strategies and tactics available to provide sustainable outcomes that will enable the business (not disable it).

By bolstering their knowledge, skills and their internal team with an expert external partner  right now, employers and will be “on the front foot’ when it comes to future bargaining negotiations.


*Fred Bolling and Steve Champion have combined experience of almost 70 years of working in the IR negotiating area, across automotive, construction, manufacturing, coal mining and retail (food service) industries in Australia and overseas. Fred and Steve together deliver the outstanding two day “Advanced EBA Negotiating Skills & Planning” Masterclass. Fred and Steve also offer shorter, sharper, in-house company specific learning and development platforms for your upcoming EBA negotiations.  

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