Industrial disputes and matters

Industrial disputes are disputes about the rights, privileges or duties of an employer or employees, or the work to be done in employment, including wages, allowances, hours, quantum of work, overtime, or age, qualification and the terms and conditions of employment.

SAET provides conciliation, and where necessary, settlement of industrial disputes that cannot be resolved. SAET will do this as quickly as possible and with a minimum of legal formality and technicality.

SAET may be involved in an industrial dispute if one of the parties seeks its input, or by starting proceedings on its own initiative.

Who is involved?

South Australia’s Fair Work Act 1994 applies to employees in the South Australian public sector, prescribed SA Government Business Enterprises, and local government.

Parties able to commence dispute proceedings include an employer or group of employers, an employee or group of employees, a registered association of employers or employees, the Minister, or the United Trades and Labor Council (of South Australian unions).

What do I need to do?

To initiate SAET’s involvement in an industrial dispute, notify SAET by completing and lodging a form, or by phoning SAET and submitting the completed form within two working days.

What can I expect?

SAET will usually start by convening a voluntary conference to explore the issues in dispute through mediation or conciliation. You may be represented by an officer of an employee or employer organisation of which you are a member, a legal practitioner (generally by leave of SAET) or agent.

Parties are not issued summons to attend voluntary conferences, but are expected to attend. The conferences are generally conducted on an informal basis.

When necessary, SAET will call a compulsory conference. This may be due to the urgency of the matter, the lack of attendance of a party to a voluntary conference, or a requirement to move towards the making of orders. Summons may be issued to a compulsory conference. A person summonsed is required to attend and remain until released. Conferences are conducted by a Commissioner.

If the issues are not resolved in the conference process, SAET may refer the matter for determination to a Presidential member and notify the parties. SAET will then arbitrate and make a decision about the issues between the parties.

If there is an argument over whether the dispute is within SAET’s jurisdiction, this question will be resolved first.

Any orders or directions made by SAET are binding on the parties. However, these orders may be subject to an appeal to the Full Bench of SAET.


Please obtain the relevant form(s) via the SAET Forms page. 

Is there a cost?


Where can I find more information?

You may wish to contact your union or a lawyer for assistance if you have further questions.

You can contact the SAET Registry if you have questions about the process.