Industrial action: best-practice guide — Australia

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) contains a central distinction between ‘protected’ industrial action (that is, lawful action) and ‘unprotected’ industrial action (unlawful action). However, a designated ‘bargaining period’ during which industrial action is protected no longer exists, as was the case previously under the former legislative regime.

Industrial action is permitted for the purpose of supporting or advancing claims in relation to an enterprise agreement that are about, or are reasonably believed to be about, ‘permitted matters’. Permitted matters are essentially matters pertaining to the relationship between an employer and employee, although the definition has expanded to include matters pertaining to the relationship between the employer and the union.

One significant feature is that employers do not have the ability to pre-emptively lock out employees. A lock-out is available only as a response to planned employee industrial action…

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