Fair Work ruling to be revised after union's appeal upheld

The Fair Work Commission has voted in favour of an Australian Workers Union (AWU) appeal against the body's previous decision to terminate the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) as supported by Alcoa of Australia.

The mining giant and union have been bargaining over the latest agreement since they first met to discuss the, now contentious issue, on December 21, 2016.

The success of their appeal means employees fall back on their previous EBA, which was set in March 2014 and covered more than 1500 workers.

The vote gives the union bargaining power, however, the decision could be overturned by the commission if the company lodges a counter appeal.

AWU acting state secretary and national vice president Brad Gandy said while the advocacy body may be celebrating early, any step forward was a win for workers at facilities in Pinjarra, Willowdale, Huntly, Kwinana and Wagerup.

"We are not there yet. This is one win that we're happy about but there's still more to do on behalf of our members," Mr Gandy told the Mandurah Mail.

Alcoa made an application to abolish the agreement on March 12, 2018.

At the time, Alcoa contended that termination of the EBA would enable them to operate their mines and refineries at "more efficient and productive levels". They stated the current conditions prevented them from doing so.

From August 28 to September 6, workers were asked to vote on a third EBA proposed by Alcoa and opposed by the AWU. However, the proposal was heavily rejected by employees.

The commission ruled in favour of Alcoa's case on December 20, 2018.

WA commission deputy president Abbey Beaumont came to that conclusion after she considered it "appropriate" to terminate the agreement and was "satisfied" that it [was] not contrary to the public interest".

Then during a commission hearing on January 25, the union appealled that ruling.

On appeal, the matter was sent to the commission's Full Bench who questioned the appropriateness of the judgment.

It has taken until April 16 for the commission's Full Bench to come to their outcome, which was to quash the previous decision, which had been handed down by Ms Beaumont.

The matter has now been sent back to Ms Beaumont, with advice from the full bench. She will be required to redetermine the matter.

"Essentially, deputy Beaumont's decision has been deleted and therefore the agreement has not been terminated. [Alcoa workers] will go back onto the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement from 2014. All those protections are now back in place," he said.

Mr Gandy said the successful appeal was a sigh of relief for workers who were facing a drastic wage cut when the termination was scheduled to be finalised on July 1, 2019.

"Certainly, we are aware that the company can appeal that decision. If there is legal grounds and it's granted - they can appeal the appeal," Mr Gandy said.

"The important thing to take away is that our members - Alcoa employees - do not want to go back to the courts. It's not in the best interest of our members.

"They want to negotiate a fair and reasonable agreement so they can vote for that and move on."

Mr Gandy said that the union and its members would be happy to roll over the same conditions set out in the 2014 EBA.

"Our members are not asking for anything extra and have never been," he said.

After three unsucessful votes they have put out to employees, Mr Gandy challenged the company to deliver a "fair and reasonable offer" out to employees so they can vote for it.

Alcoa spokeswoman said the company remained focussed on establishing a new agreement that provided "certainty for employees and their families and continues to work towards this goal".

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