Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (Meca)

An AEC agreement or collective agreement is the term used to describe a situation in which a certain number of workers participate in an identical agreement – that is, they are subject to the same conditions and are also entitled to the same contractual rights. In New Zealand, collective agreements are recognized as binding and enforceable by the Employment Relations Act 2000. Collective agreements are categorized according to the configuration of the contracting parties and consist of two forms: meCA or SECA (see below). As a worker, you are bound either by an IEA (also known as the individual work agreement, the parties are the individual worker and the employer (not the union) or an AEC. The collective nature of employment contracts depends on a number of advantages, first with the strength and security in numbers. One of the characteristics of trade unionism in the workplace is a collective approach to wages and conditions of employment. Through collective bargaining and lobbying with governments with other members of the Community, trade unions have minimum standards: before the employment contract law, MECAs (or their equivalent) were commonplace and, in the health sector, they were probably the main form of employment or distinguishing contracts, as they were called at the time. Multi-employer agreements, in one way or another, have been the dominant medium on which terms of employment have been negotiated for about 100 years since the introduction of New Zealand`s first industrial legislation, the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act in 1894. Under the Employment Relations Act 2000, collective bargaining can only take place through a registered union such as APEX.

Under this act, a union can decide whether it wants a collective agreement for more than one employer, hence the MECA. The decision on whether or not to negotiate an MECA is first made by a vote of the union members. All union members covered by the safeguard clause in the collective agreement have the opportunity to participate in the vote. Each group of workers employed by an employer decides whether their employer should be included in the MECA. As soon as this is completed, the Union will enter into negotiations with employers for whom workers voted for inclusion in the MECA.

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