Track Record

Some of our current work:

  • Providing comprehensive facilitation support as Amcor Fibre Packing (now Orora) work with the Printing Divsion of the AMWU in a major workplace transformation initiative to put the company in firmly competitive space and to give long-term job security and decent employment opportunities to the workforce
  • Assisting Slater & Gordon and the ASU with their current round of  enterprise bargaining
  • Facilitating enterprise bargaining between Amcor Flexibles, the NUW and the AMWU
  • Facilitating enterprise bargaining between TAFE NSW and the Australian Education Union
  • Chairing a joint committee of TAFE NSW and the AEU as the parties the trial new teaching and support roles within a fast changing and increasingly competitive tertiary education sector
  • Providing consultative skills training for TAFE Western Sydney, the AEU, the CPSU and the AMWU
  • Working with Sandvik, the AMWU and the AWU on bargaining and business process improvements in the Hunter Valley

Published study on CoSolve facilitation at Tomago Aluminium: See Macneil & Bray "Third-pary facilitators in interest-based negotiation: An Australian Case Study" (2013) Journal of Industrial Relations 55(5) 699–722.

Over the years:

  • Australian Hearing, the CPSU and the AMWU: training for bargaining and the facilitation of the 2013 round of bargaining
  • Australian Red Cross Blood Service & the Australian Nurses Federation: facilitation of collaborative problem-solving process to address predicted organisational challenges
  • Dept of Health & Human Services Tasmania & Australian Nurses Federation: facilitating the implementation of  enterprise bargaining agreements
  • Dept of Education and Early Childhood Development (Victoria): working with the IT, Infrastructure and other divisions to support the effective engagement people and systems within core support functions to achieve improved educational outcomes across metropolitan and rural Victoria
  • Esso (Australia): facilitating and leading teams of worker and management on-site to identify, scope and then address key issues to improve the safety, health and efficiency of working arrangements at the Longford Gas Plant and Long Island Point facility
  • Fonterra New Zealand and the Dairy Workers Union: building consensus for improving organisational and employee outcomes by enhancing labour-management relation; facilating collective agreement negotiations in 2011
  • Hydro Aluminum: facilitation of negotiations between local management and the AWU for the establishment of their enterprise agreement in the context of a difficult commercial environment and the need to retain the goodwill and commitment of a highly skilled workforce.  
  • Independent Schools: Assisting a consortium of school principals in arriving at a comprehensive new protocol for managing competition between them
  • Lion (Lion Nathan National Foods): Training in mutual gains bargaining
  • Macquarie Generation: training in dispute resolution and problem-solving and review of dispute resolution strategy
  • Members Equity: training in dispute resolution and redesign of internal dispute resolution systems
  • Motor Accidents Authority: master consultant of the 2010/11 Claims Assessments and Resolution Service ('CARS') review
  • OceanaGold: working with the leadership team to revisit and develop a full suite of corporate strategies and plans to secure the ongoing success of its gold mining operations in New Zealand and the Philippines
  • Queensland Government Workplace Productivity and Partnership Project: aligning business, operational & workplace  partnership strategies in selected manufacturing enterprises
  • Queensland Health & QNU: facilitating negotiations for EB8 of 2012
  • Private companies: assisting the directors and shareholders of two interlinked companies restructure their businesses and relationships
  • Refugee Council of Australia: pro bono facilitation of strategic planning workshop 
  • Slater & Gordon and the ASU: training for bargaining and then the facilitation of the 2011 EBA
  • Super Benefits Administration (First Super): working in collaboration with call centre workers, their union and management to redesign administrative roles in order to enhance service to member of the Fund, to improve efficiency and generally to make the business a more satisfying place in which to work
  • Tomago Aluminium & AWU: facilitation of the Enterprise Agreement negotiations using an interest-based approach,  facilitation of joint problem-solving and planning workshops, and facilitation of business unit productivity improvement and operators' grading system projects




Engaging at work

It takes a bit of boldness for an employer to decide to engage its workforce in a serious way over workplace change. It certainly involves a lot more than merely "communicating the message" in what is usually quite a directive and even patronising way. Our experience, though, is that when trust is shown in others and a sensible framework for discussion set up, people turn out to be both refreshingly reasonable and imaginative. Good solutions to problems are found, provided one is robust enough to appreciate that some negotiation must be leavened into the expansive problem-solving process.

One of our more rewarding bargaining roles in recent times has occurred in the context of the Queensland Department of Employment & Industrial Relations' Smart Workplaces initiative. This program aimed at demonstrating the link between cooperative workplace relations and productive results. CoSolve was selected to run projects at two pilots sites, one in the aged care sector - the state's biggest aged care services provider, Blue Care, and the Queensland Nurses Union were the principal parties here - and one in the manufacturing sector - Berri Juices and the AMWU and NUW. In both cases the parties concerned elected to go with a fully-fledged mutual gains approach, and in both cases the parties were satisfied with the outcomes. The QNU had this to say in the August 2008 edition of The Queensland Nurse:

"A case study in negotiating a successful agreement"

 "The final agreement, which was successful at ballot last month, was negotiated through a mutual gains process where both parties identify their key interests and formulate an end agreement to best match those interests. This is the first time that Blue Care/Wesley Mission Brisbane and the QNU have used this unique approach during negotiations. Under this process the parties do not come into negotiations with fixed positions under a traditional log of claims, but are encouraged to identify their key underlying interests, and then bargain creatively and constructively so that the end agreement best matches those interests.

 Bargaining was conducted in a generally cooperative, friendly and productive way with CoSolve's assistance. Certain issues such as workloads were tackled through problem-solving rather than in a combative way. This approach probably helped in achieving easier and better agreement on provisions around career progression and workloads, where the QNU was prepared to trial workload tools such as shift lengths and hours changes which it probably would not have in a more traditional negotiation. This did not mean that reaching agreement on the best way forward necessarily came easy or was without some very vigorous debate."

The bargaining process also delivered at the manufacturing site. Appropriate increases were negotiated for the workforces as a whole, and the engineers received an additional market adjustment of 12 percent. A new consultative forum was established to carry forward initiatives developed in the Smart Workplaces program such as continuous improvement, training and the investigation of gain-sharing.

The following observations give a sense of how the parties felt about the whole exercise:

‘I thought the whole process of engagement was brilliant. The best thing was the opportunity to see things from both sides'
- Lead union delegate

‘Our union does not normally engage in hand-holding, but this mutual gains process worked well and the outcome was pleasing'
- Union official

‘Several months after the formal negotiations have concluded, there is still a firm sense of respect, tolerance and understanding amongst the parties who made up the original negotiating team - this enduring relationship is one of the key cornerstones to the success of the Smart Workplaces initiative
- HR manager

‘The bargaining process was professionally conducted, and the mutual gain we achieved would not have happened without the assistance of Smart Workplaces. The [business process improvement] projects were a great success'
- Site manager


We have done work for parties such as Shell Australia & the CFMEU (Mining & Energy Division); Sydney Symphony Orchestra and its employees; The Smith Family & the ASU; BHP-Billiton and the CFMEU (Mining & Energy Division), Air New Zealand and relevant unions; South African Airways and the SAA  Pilots Association; Queensland Rail & relevant unions;  Ford Australia & the AMWU;  National Foods & relevant unions; Botswana Diamond Valuing Company & the Botswana Diamond Sorters and Valuators Union; NSW Fire Brigades & the Fire Brigade Employees Union.