Collective bargaining won’t lead to wage explosion: Gillard

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Collective bargaining won’t lead to wage explosion: Gillard

Labor has denied that its increased emphasis on collective bargaining under its IR policy will lead to a wage explosion, because it will only be able to take place at the workplace level - pattern bargaining is outlawed.

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Labor has denied that its increased emphasis on collective bargaining under its IR policy will lead to a wage explosion, because it will only be able to take place at the workplace level - pattern bargaining is outlawed.

In a radio interview it was put to Labor’s IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, that there ‘is a concern that [collective bargaining] in effect will shove up the rate of wage increases and that it could lead to a wage explosion’.

‘We’re certainly going to have collective bargaining but it’s collective enterprise bargaining; it’s at the workplace level,’ she said. ‘On the question of pressure on wages, because it’s enterprise based bargaining, the deal in one enterprise does not flow through to any other enterprise.’

Share productivity gains

Gillard said if employees are working for a business that’s doing well and the workers have increased productivity when they strike their enterprise agreement they would expect to share the gains of that.

‘If an identical business down the road is doing badly - for whatever reason, the workers aren’t being productive, there are problems in the workplace, things are going badly - when they do their enterprise agreement, they won’t get [the same] deal, they’ll get a different deal that suits that business,’ she said.

Worse deal

‘And you would expect it to be a worse deal because that business isn’t going as well. So, it’s a system based on productivity, based on your enterprise doing well. If wage gains are being based on productivity gains, that’s not what puts pressure on inflation.’

Gillard said that in the collective bargaining people can be represented by a union, they can represent themselves or get a non-union person to represent them. 

‘What we want to do is give people in workplaces a choice they don’t have now. Under [Prime Minister John] Howard’s laws at the moment, if 100% of employees in a workplace said we want to try collective bargaining, the employer could just say no.

Good faith bargaining

‘Under our laws, if a majority of them want to try collective bargaining, then the employer would have to sit down and have the discussion. They don’t have to make the bargain, but they at least have to have the discussion about it. That’s what we’ve called good faith bargaining.’

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