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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

Amalgamation trends

Research using archives



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Parties to the Award

Whilst the complexities of organisational change cannot be fully shown on a graphic representation, the charts and directory in Parties to the Award can serve as a base for further research on trade unions, employer associations and peak councils operating in the federal industrial relations system. This introduction is intended to give only a basic background to the federal industrial system and the organisations operating within it.

Federal industrial relations legislation

Under Australia's Constitution, federal parliament has the power to make laws with respect to 'conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one state'.[1] Residual powers regarding industrial relations remain with the States. Consequently, separate laws and industrial relations systems exist in parallel at federal and state levels.

Two principal Acts have regulated the federal industrial relations system: the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 and its replacement, the Industrial Relations Act 1988. By the time the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was replaced in 1988, it had become one of the most amended pieces of Australian legislation. Over the period between 1904 to 1981 well in excess of one hundred amendments, additions, repeals or substitutions were made to sections relating to organisations alone. Many of the aspects of the law that will now be examined exist, therefore, as result of continual amendment and refinement of the Act.[2]

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© 1994 Print Edition page 1, 2002 Online Edition
Published by The University of Melbourne Archives, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher