Global resources giant Rio Tinto, after its recent rapprochement with unions, is "the largest and most comprehensive example" of why it makes sense to bargain with employees' representatives, according to mining union leader Tony Maher.
In a development that might fuel debate over the links between union power and wage rises, substantially above-average pay increases secured in the heavily-unionised construction sector have pushed bargained private sector wage rises off their recent historic low.
A review of the 2015 amendments to the Fair Work Act's greenfields agreements provisions has rejected union pleas to axe "last offer" arbitration - despite a failure by employers to utilise it - and has recommended reducing from six months to three the "negotiating period" before the FWC can break deadlocks.
The Fair Work Commission says its failure to meet timeliness targets for agreement approvals is partly due to the delay in passage of the Turnbull Government's legislation that would enable it to overlook minor or technical flaws in proposed deals.
The approval of new deals covering almost 22,000 ATO and PM&C employees heralds significant progress in the CPSU's longest-ever bargaining dispute, but the union says it won't be resolved until the Department of Human Services "gets the message on retaining rights and conditions".
The number of enterprise agreements terminated by the FWC has accelerated dramatically in recent years, particularly for relatively small union-negotiated deals in the construction and manufacturing sectors, according to the Department of Employment.