LEGAL SCHOLAR: SAFETY LAWS KEY TO CLIMATE INITIATIVES

Eugene Schofield-Georgeson, a senior law lecturer at UTS, suggests that safety laws might be a more effective way to address workplace climate change impacts than enterprise agreements due to legal limitations on bargaining scope.

He proposes extending health and safety committees' role to cover environmental issues, allowing workers and employers to cooperatively negotiate and implement environmentally sustainable changes within workplaces.

Schofield-Georgeson argues that current enterprise bargaining law restricts meaningful environmental bargaining, and safety laws could offer a broader and enforceable regulatory framework for such negotiations.

He recommends amending the WHS Act to explicitly include environmental and climate risks within health and safety committees' functions, offering statutory authority to address environmental issues.

Currently, some enterprise agreements include environmental clauses, especially in non-carbon-intensive industries like tertiary education.

Source: Legal obstacles and possibilities for environmental bargaining in Australia

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