Both the CWU and Optus have now made their final submissions prior to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) Full Bench award modernisation hearing. The hearing is scheduled for August 22.
Both parties are supporting the retention of an enterprise award but the CWU is arguing for a number of provisions that it believes would bring the award more into line with current industry practice.
Optus has agreed to some of our proposals such as provisions to regulate the operation of 12 hour shifts.
However it is resisting CWU attempts to have certain conditions of employment, such as payments for travel, inserted into the award rather than being dealt with through company policies.
As the E-bulletin has emphasised before, the final decision on these questions will be made by the Commission and even where there is agreement between the parties, the FWC may decide on another course of action.
The FWC has, for instance, recently rejected an application by Qantas for a modern enterprise award for a section of its staff even though the application had union backing.
In fact the whole question of modern enterprise awards remains relatively unchartered territory and the Optus case looks set to be a significant one in determining in what circumstances an enterprise, rather than an industry, award will be appropriate.