During EBA negotiations, the key decisions are up to members. ANMF elected officials can make recommendations, but only members can vote.
There are three times during the bargaining process that require a vote:
- Voting to take protected industrial action
- Voting to accept or reject an offer at a members meeting, and
- Formally voting to accept or reject the EBA outcome in its entirety.
ANMF and your employer will facilitate formal voting in each case to ensure it is conducted rigorously and lawfully, but only members whose ANMF and employer details match can vote. You have the final say.
To have your say, however, it is essential that you participate in these votes.
Voting to take action
This may not always be necessary but if negotiations reach a point where the employer/government won’t support enough of our members claims, and we cannot recommend the negotiated outcome to members, you can vote to exercise your legally protected right to take industrial action, with the aim of achieving a better offer.
Via a show-of-hands vote at a members’ meeting, as well as via a formal, secret electronic ballot, you will demonstrate to the Branch, employers and government if you want to exercise this right. This process must follow several steps, as laid out in the Fair Work Act.
Key for members is that for industrial action to be legally protected, at least 50 per cent plus one of eligible members covered by the EBA at each facility must participate in the vote, and more than 50 per cent of those voting must vote YES in favour of the right to take protected industrial action.
Note: by voting YES in a protected industrial action ballot, you are not voting to take action. You are voting to have the legal right to take some, or all, of the industrial action proposed in the event it is needed at a later time.
Voting to accept or reject an offer
Sometimes members may indicate, via a show-of-hands vote at a members meeting, that they are ready to formally vote on an employer’s/government offer without taking action.
Prior to the formal vote on the outcome of the agreement, eligible employees (all those who will be covered by the agreement) must have a seven-day access period. During this time, the employer is required to provide eligible employees a copy of the proposed EBA. This should include both:
- the written text of the agreement, and
- any other material incorporated by reference in the agreement.
During the access period, the employer must also take all reasonable steps to notify eligible employees about the voting process, including the time and place it will occur and the method by which it will occur.
ANMF will also be providing summaries of the proposed Agreement so that members are clear about what they are voting on.
At the conclusion of the access period, voting can begin.
If the majority of members vote to accept the agreement, an application for approval will be made to the Fair Work Commission (FWC).
The Commission will go through every clause of the Agreement to ensure that all the legally required steps and processes have been followed and that everything is in order. When the FWC finds this to be the case and approves it, the Agreement will become legally enforceable seven days later and the benefits of the Agreement can commence.