Workers and employers have much in common. Together, they provide the workplaces that sustain our material needs and contribute to the social cohesion that defines us a community. A foundational unit of society, workplaces provide most of us with sustenance, an identity, a purpose and many of our social connections. They also take so much that is precious – our time, our energy, our opportunities to pursue other endeavours. – The Australian Charter of Employment Rights.
Our society has been shaped by iconic Australian employment rights, such as the right to a living wage, the eight-hour day and the industrial principal of a ‘fair go’. In the past decade, Australian employers, workers and their representatives have had to constantly adapt to significant changes in workplace legislation, which in turn has undermined the stability of the workplace system and resulted in an erosion of workplace culture.
Industrial relations legislation and policy create the environment in which workplace relations are carried out. However it is the human dimension of the workplace, the way in which the industrial parties, employers and workers relate, that shapes the workplace environment. The Australian Institute of Employment Rights (AIER) believes that positive working environments come about through positive, collaborative relationships founded in good faith and recognising the dignity of all. It is only through an increased investment in achieving a workplace culture that fosters relationships based around good faith, dignity and partnership will genuinely safe, productive and harmonious workplaces result.
AIER believes that the right to good faith relationships and the right to be treated with dignity are at the heart of positive workplace relations. Inspired by international standards, included the United Nation’s Charter of Human Rights, and International Labour Organization Conventions and programs such as Decent Work, the AIER’s Australian Charter and Standard of Employment Rights identify the ten fundamental principles on which fair, balanced and decent workplace laws and relationships should be based, and how they should be implemented. At the heart of these ten fundamental principles is the right and responsibility to found relationships in good faith and the right of dignity at and of work.
AIER collaborates with industrial parties, corporations, businesses, community organisations and the broader community to develop an understanding and appreciation of the importance of respectful relations in the workplace. It works on-the-ground to assist in the practical application of its Charter, with the aim of making workplaces better and improving the quality of Australians’ working lives.
Industrial Fairness – the essentials
The federal government’s Forward with Fairness policy and implementation program was widely considered to be a welcome advancement in employment rights. However, AIER was concerned that aspects of Forward with Fairness failed to meet Australia’s obligations under international law, and fell short of the workplace fairness standards set out in its Australian Charter of Employment Rights. AIER’s submission to government outlines the key issues that need to be addressed in the new legislation, and ways forward.