THE details of the federal government's major review of its industrial relations policy will be announced as early as today and comes as both sides of politics welcomed a settlement in the drawn-out dispute between Qantas and its engineers.
The deal was hailed by the Workplace Relations Minister, Bill Shorten, who is off to a flying start in the portfolio, having brokered a detente last week between waterfront unions and a stevedoring company owned by Chris Corrigan.
Mr Shorten and the Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, said in a joint statement that the three-year enterprise agreement between Qantas and 1600 aircraft engineers was proof that the Fair Work Australia arbitration process was striking the right note for all involved parties.
''The government has consistently stated the importance of both sides recognising that they had a mutual interest in resolving the dispute,'' the ministers said.
But Qantas is still a considerable way from settling its differences with the unions representing baggage handlers and ground crew, and long-haul pilots. Both unions are locked in a stalemate with the airline despite almost two months of negotiations and arbitrary hearings before a full bench of Fair Work Australia will begin in late March.
The efficacy of the Gillard government's industrial relations policy will be a major focus of the political debate next year, with a review of the Fair Work Act scheduled to begin by January 1.
The review's terms of reference - including whether the introduction of individual workplace agreements will be considered - is expected to be announced today or tomorrow.
Mr Shorten would not say yesterday who would lead the review but a spokesman for him said the details had been finalised and an announcement was imminent.
Mr Shorten and Mr Albanese said that invoking Fair Work Australia's emergency powers after Qantas grounded its fleet and threatened workers with a lockout had contributed to yesterday's outcome between the airline and the engineers union.
The deal includes an annual 3 per cent wage increase over its three-year life, as well as a ''new licensing system'' that rewards engineers who take on extra responsibilities. However, the union withdrew a demand for the establishment of a heavy maintenance hangar in Australia for Qantas's Airbus A380s.
The engineers will gain back pay after the two sides agreed to allow the deal to begin on January 1 this year.
The Opposition spokesman for Employment and Workplace Relations, Eric Abetz, said he was glad that ''after all the hoopla… commonsense has finally prevailed.''
"I have said all along that management decisions - like the building of new hangars - should be left to management because, at the end of the day, the more successful the enterprise, the better job security individual employees have,'' Senator Abetz said.
The secretary of the the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, Steve Purvinas, said the government and Mr Shorten had played an important role in the two sides reaching a deal.
''The kind words or pressure or whatever it may be from some of the government ministers who phoned through have maybe convinced Qantas it may be best to wrap up an agreement,'' Mr Purvinas said.