n 2004, employers were active in arguing their cases in a number of important hearings of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. However, despite a united position among employer ranks and the federal government, employers were generally disappointed with the Commission’s safety net review decision. Both the Australian industry Group and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry found some common ground with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, in a consent position on extending carers leave, but overall employers presented a detailed argument opposing any extension of employee rights in the Commission’s work and family test case. Employers in some sectors were able to reach collective agreements with unions with little industrial disruption, whereas others, such as banking, found the going tougher. Overall, employers, like unions, faced a great deal of uncertainty over what were or were not ‘matters pertaining’, as a number of decisions after the Electrolux case clarified or clouded the issue. Understandably, the year ended on a positive note for most employers, with the Howard Government re-elected with a majority in the Senate, enabling it to pass a further round of radical labour market reforms in 2005.
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