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Why a Meca?

Why a Meca?

Multi-employer collective agreements, or Mecas, are, quite simply, the most logical way to organise an industry’s labour force.

Employers who are party to a Meca know that they are not going to be undercut on their labour costs. And workers know that they are getting the going rate on wages and conditions.

The bargaining process, headed by advocates from the EPMU on one side and the EMA on the other, is stable and straightforward, minimising interruption to business. Small companies and groups of workers that haven’t got large resources to sink into industrial relations know that they are being represented by the best advocates available, and that the agreement will comply with all statutory requirements.

The Meca also protects industry standards on issues like training, and is an efficient way for an industry to come together to deal with such issues.

Stastistics show that unionised workers earn, on average, more than their non-unionised counterparts. In the 10 years between 1991 and 2001, wage rates in the Metals agreements rose 26.9 per cent – 5.7 per cent ahead of the inflation of 21.2 per cent for the same period.

Multi-employer bargaining is seen as an important part of a return to a functioning labour market. In a paper released last year, researchers from Victoria (Wellington) and La Trobe (Melbourne) Universities said that the most successful unions would be those that achieved industry-wide multi-employment agreements.

As well as the Metals, the EPMU has negotiated Mecas in the plastics, commercial printing, automotive and on-shore oil exploration industries.

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