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Enterprise Bargaining Agreements Simplified

Enterprise Bargaining Agreements Simplified

As we come out of our first month of the New Year, many workplaces are getting into Enterprise Bargaining. 

For most Union members this is known to be a standard process every three years or so, often with many delegates taking part.

United Voice members are always at the table, because Union members know what they want and how working together gets the best results.

And whilst this occurs at many different workplaces all through the year, the process can be confusing.

That's why we're going to simplify it for you.

Often known as your ‘Agreement’, a federal Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) is made in two key steps:

  1. Negotiation
  2. Voting


The first step is at the 'bargaining table' where employees and employers negotiate the terms and conditions of employment for a new Agreement.

The negotiation meetings take time, and allow for both parties to openly and freely discuss proposed conditions and offers.

Workers who take part in negotiations as part of their Union bargaining team are often delegates, or groups of delegates who collectively form a bargaining committee.

To prepare for negotiations, Union members - with assistance from officials - devise a ‘log of claims’ which consists of items the workers are seeking in their new Agreement. The employer can and often will prepare one too.

Negotiations may take several meetings of back and forth, with workers often presented with proposals or offers by the employer which are not popular. This can lead to lengthy disagreements, and some times to workers taking protected Industrial Action.


At any stage during negotiations the employer can put a new Agreement out to a vote. Sometimes employers put out an Agreement to a vote, before Union members at the table think the employer’s offer is good enough.

The more union members there are in a workplace, the less likely it is that an employer will try use this strategy. When union membership is strong at a workplace, the employer will usually stay at the bargaining table until terms are agreed.

All workers who will be covered by the new Agreement can take part in the vote, but it is not compulsory.

A majority vote will decide whether bargaining continues (a 'No' vote) or whether the Agreement is made (a 'Yes' vote) and can be lodged with the Fair Work Commission for approval.

Being on the Bargaining Committee

To be part of the bargaining committee is an honour and while it can get stressful and heated at times, it's an exciting experience. Zoe, a Disability delegate, is part of her workplace bargaining committee for the first time.

"Sitting in on my first EBA negotiations is exciting and is an experience I would suggest all members be party to," she said.

Another member taking part in negotiations is Ben, a Health member, who wants the chance to positively change his workplace rights.

"To be part of these negotiations means we get to influence the direction our workplace rights are going," he said.

There are many negotiations taking place in 2018, making the number of members in a workplace more important than ever. 

The greater number of members - The better the outcome.

That's why it's so important to be a union member.

If you know somebody who should be a United Voice member, send them this link and ask them to join today: