Police Bargaining Disputes and Third-Party Intervention in Australia: Which Way Forward?

Giuseppe Carabetta


The essential duties that police officers perform, and the absence of a right to strike, creates the need for an effective, impartial procedure for the resolution of bargaining disputes. This article argues that, with the shift of focus under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to good-faith bargaining, police officers have been left without an effective dispute resolution mechanism, partly because of the limitations on arbitration but also because of uncertainties surrounding the scope of the ‘protected action’ provisions of the Act for police officers. Following a review of police pay-setting arrangements in comparable jurisdictions, this article examines and proposes options for an alternative model, including a mandatory ‘final-offer’ arbitration (‘FOA’) model as used for police bargaining in Canada, New Zealand and the United States. Research shows that — aside from providing an effective closure mechanism for bargaining disputes where strikes or lock-outs are unavailable — mandatory FOA offers a range of benefits to police bargaining, and could provide an ideal ‘fit’ for the current bargaining-centred system. The article’s findings are of significance not only to police officers, but to all emergency services workers covered by the Fair Work bargaining regime.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/dlr2013vol18no1art58


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