The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) welcomes the decision made yesterday in the Fair Work Commission that gives the union the right to represent the manufacturing employees of ResMed Limited.
The AMWU, represented by Tony Howell of counsel and its legal officer Lucy Saunders, succeeded in its application for consent to a variation to its eligibility rules, over ResMed’s extensive objection. The effect of the decision is to put beyond doubt the right of the AMWU to cover ResMed employees engaged as production operators in manufacturing and warehousing roles, up to the level of supervisor.
The Full Bench also refused to make the exclusive representation order sought by ResMed that would have denied the right of any ResMed employee to be represented by the AMWU, regardless of coverage. The Full Bench ‘[did] not consider that there [was] any proper discretionary basis for the grant of the 137A order’ and rejected the application accordingly.
The decision ends years of protracted legal wrangling over the AMWU’s right to represent ResMed employees. ResMed first raised its objection to the AMWU in 2013, after the union applied for a majority support determination, as part of what the Full Bench described as its ‘legal/industrial strategy to avoid having to collectively bargain’. The AMWU had previously represented ResMed workers without challenge since at least 1996. The Full Bench confirmed that ‘the AMWU is really the only union in the field’ at ResMed.
“ResMed employees have the right to be represented in the workplace and no expensive legal strategy can take that away from them. Today our industrial relations systems protected that right,” said AMWU NSW Secretary Tim Ayres.
“We are lucky to live in a country that protects the right of working people to organize and we can never take those rights for granted. Today is a win that the Australian union movement can celebrate,” Mr Ayres said.
The AMWU is now free to pursue its application for a majority support determination in relation to these workers, which has been resisted by ResMed since 2013.
The AMWU is proud to represent employees in high tech manufacturing. The Full Bench confirmed that ResMed’s medical device business falls within the metals and engineering industry, the AMWU’s traditional area of operation.
“Biotechnology and other high tech industries represent the future of Australian manufacturing. This decision demonstrates the central role of the AMWU in that sector. It is an important decision for the future of this union,” Mr Ayres said.
The AMWU would like to congratulate its legal team for their extraordinary efforts.
Media Contact: Joe McKenzie 0407931445