By Andy Young

The Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has once again granted authorisation to the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) to collectively bargain on behalf of its current and future members.

The AHA is now authorised to collectively bargain with listed suppliers for 10 years. The ACCC has previously granted collective bargaining authorisation to the AHA on two occasions, for five years on each occasion. The new deal also brings the collective bargaining agreement under the jurisdiction of the national AHA, rather than the individual states.

Stephen Ferguson, CEO of the AHA, told TheShout: "It's an extension of an agreement that was already in place, the previous agreement lasted five years, while this one lasts 10 years."

He added: “The other thing is that the right to collective bargain was previously held only by each state branch independently, now, for the first time all the branches can bargain collectively under the federal banner. So rather than eight separate negotiations there will just be one, so it is convenient for both sides.”

Ferguson also said that this agreement includes a slightly expanded list of suppliers.

The AHA now has a list of 31 suppliers it can collectively bargain with for a range of goods and services including wagering, gaming, collective licences for public performances, subscription broadcasts, tobacco products, ATMs and insurance. The listed suppliers do not include any liquor providers or distributors.

The authorisation does not include any collective boycott activity, indeed the AHA did not seek any kind of boycott authorisation. The authorisation also stipulates that being a listed supplier is voluntary and suppliers can opt to deal directly with AHA members.

In approving the authorisation, the ACCC said: “The ACCC notes that suppliers potentially covered by the application operate in a wide range of industries and sectors each having a number of different characteristics. As such, the effect of [the AHA’s] proposed collective bargaining arrangements will vary. The ACCC has considered the effect on competition in the industries and sectors in which the 31 listed suppliers operate.”

The Commission added: “The ACCC is satisfied that the Conduct, including the nomination of additional counterparties, is likely to result in public benefits from transaction cost savings and improved input into contracts which outweighs the minimal likely public detriment. Accordingly, the ACCC is satisfied that the relevant net public benefit test is met and grants re-authorisation to the Applicants.

“Given the ACCC’s conclusion on the balance of public benefits and public detriments, and that the ACCC has observed the collective bargaining arrangements of the past 10 years the ACCC grants authorisation for a further 10 years.”

Collective bargaining may be conducted on the acquisition of products, terms of supply, settlement discounts, product development, joint advertising and marketing and distribution.

The 31 listed suppliers are: ANZ, Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd, Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd, Australasian Performing Rights Association, BAT, Centrebet International Limited, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, DC Payments, Expedia Australia Pty Ltd, Fairfax Media, Foxtel, IGT (Australia) Pty Limited, Imperial Tobacco, Konami Australia Pty Ltd, Marsh, National Australia Bank, News Ltd, OAMPS, Optus, Philip Morris, Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited, Premier Venue Entertainment Pty Ltd (Fox Sports Venues), Sky Channel Pty Ltd, Sportsbet Pty Ltd, Tabcorp Holdings Ltd, Telstra, TPG, Unitab Ltd, WA TAB, Westpac, Holdings Limited.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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