BOOSTED DELEGATE RIGHTS ENHANCE SAFETY

Boosted delegates' rights will make workplaces more cooperative, increasing safety, productivity and openness to new technologies like AI, according to a report by David Peetz of the Centre for Future Work.

Recent ‘Closing Loopholes’ changes guarantee delegates' rights to represent workers and to access paid training leave from the start of this week, with all agreements that go to ballot now having to contain a delegates' rights term or to contain the clause from the relevant award.

Peetz confirms what HSRs and Unions already know, that enhanced delegates' voices lead to greater cooperation and joint problem-solving, contrary to fears of increased conflict. Workers expect their unions and employers to work together effectively, and well-trained delegates are best placed to effectively represent workers' interests.

Consultation with employee representatives is crucial for managing safety concerns associated with new technology impacts, including AI. Studies show that AI adoption is associated with lower risks of heavy workloads when there's consultation with works councils, unions and HSRs. Workers consulted on new technology report better health, safety, and satisfaction.

The report highlights that enhancing worker voices will assist in resolving grievances related to pay, benefits, and safety, and reduce resistance to the introduction of mutually beneficial new technology.

However, Peetz warns unions that a focus solely on increasing delegate ‘bums on seats’ in delegate training courses at the expense of more informal forms of follow-up and support, could minimise the benefits of the new training leave rights. Effective follow-up and mentoring are essential for maximising the positive outcomes of union education and training.

Review the research here

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