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Parties to the Award Australian Trade Union Archives Home Page
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Parties to the Award

Federal industrial relations legislation

Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904

Industrial Relations Act 1988

Registered organisations
Associations eligible to register
Interstate disputes
Prior existence of an association
Definition of industry
Size requirements
Rights of registered organisations
Obligations of registered organisations
Dual registration
Deregistered organisations
Employer associations

Amalgamation trends

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Dual registration

With federal and state systems operating simultaneously, and with many federal unions being born out of federations of state unions, the reality is that many unions have dual registrations and service a mixture of federal and state awards. A state branch of a federally registered union may also be registered under its relevant state legislation and bring disputes before the relevant state industrial commission. Whilst both the state-registered union and the state branch of the federally registered union may have the same name, the same members and the same committees or officials, they are in fact separate legal entities. In other cases, state-registered unions and state branches of federally registered unions do not have the same name, members, committees or officials, and sometimes these federal and state unions have been at odds with each other.[29]

There are many cases where state-registered unions have been absorbed by state branches of federally registered unions. An example of this is the merger between the Firemen and Deckhands' Union of New South Wales and the NSW Branch of the Seamen's Union of Australia. Mergers of this type have not been documented in Parties to the Award since they are not between two (or more) federally registered organisations. Such changes would only be documented by the federal Registry when the eligibility rules or name of the absorbing organisation are altered and certified. A similar instance is when a federally registered intrastate union federates with parallel intrastate unions which are not federally registered. For example, the federally registered Sydney Foremen Stevedores' Association changed its name to the Australian Foremen Stevedores' Association in 1941 then proceeded to federate with foremen stevedore associations outside Sydney, and organise new branches. Changes of name and rules regarding eligibility and the federal/branch structures were submitted for certification by the Commission.[30]

Within the federal system another kind of dual registration exists, principally due to administrative inaction and registration anomalies. When a registered organisation is unofficially absorbed by another registered organisation (or naturally becomes part of it, as in the case of a branch) the need for its registration to be cancelled has often not been brought to the Registrar's attention. For example, the Victorian, Adelaide, New South Wales and Queensland Branches of the Australian Boot Trade Employees' Federation were each granted separate federal registration in the period 1906 to 1907. In 1908 the federal union the Australian Boot Trade Employees' Federation was granted federal registration, which in effect superseded the four Branches' registrations. Their respective registrations, however, were not cancelled in 1908 but lingered until 1950. Likewise when the registered Australian Carriers' Union unofficially amalgamated with the registered Australian Workers' Union in 1913, its registration continued until 1950. The same applies for the registration of many truly defunct organisations. The operations of the Federated Cooks and Stewards' Union of Australia were wound down in 1914 yet it remained registered until 1950.

Due to this practice of deferred deregistration, the potential for confusion exists. With some exceptions such as the Permanent and Casual Wharf Laborers Union of Australia and the Australian Tramway and Motor Omnibus Employees' Association, almost all cancellations of registration which took place in 1950 did so on 6 March and as a result of an administrative rationalisation by the Registry. Most of the organisations which were deregistered on that date had become defunct in that form many years earlier.

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© 1994 Print Edition pages 5 - 6, 2002 Online Edition
Published by The University of Melbourne Archives, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher