The Changing Contours of Labour Disputes and Conflict Resolution in Australia: Towards a Post-Arbitral Measurement Framework
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The structured, predictable pattern of labour disputes and conflict resolution under the conciliation and arbitration system has changed significantly since the decentralisation of wage-setting. Some of the major changes include the reemergence of employer lockouts, the growth in disputes over union recognition and the type of workplace agreement and the use of other forms of dispute resolution such as private mediators and the common law courts. The disputation statistics of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have traditionally been amongst the most comprehensive in the OECD and recent adjustments have been made since the introduction of enterprise bargaining. Adjusting classification and measurement systems amidst significant institutional change is a difficult task but it will be argued that the restructured framework does not fully reflect the changed contours of labour disputes and conflict resolution. The ways in which the patterns of disputation and conflict resolution have changed since the move away from the classical arbitral model will be outlined before presenting a reworked framework for measuring and classifying labour disputes which incorporates these changes.