AIRC ‘all ears’ to hear views on modern awards: Gillard

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AIRC ‘all ears’ to hear views on modern awards: Gillard

IR Minister Julia Gillard has urged employers who are fearful that the introduction of modern awards next year will add to their costs to make a submission to the AIRC.

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IR Minister Julia Gillard has urged employers who are fearful that the introduction of modern awards next year will add to their costs to make a submission to the AIRC.
 
Because modern awards will combine different state pay scales and penalties into one award, those employers at the lower end fear their wages bill will rise.
 
Other employers, such as those in the restaurant industry, widely used AWAs to put workers on a flat rate and abolish weekend and other penalty rates. The modern award covering restaurants and hotels — Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 — puts those rates back.
 
Penalty rates back
 
These employers will have to start paying penalty rates when current AWAs expire or when they hire new employees.
 
‘Industries like retail and hospitality face the prospect of millions of dollars in higher penalty rates, loadings and week-end or overtime payments, especially if they trade seven days,’ ACCI chief executive Peter Anderson said earlier this year.
 
‘Many employers would also be tied up in red-tape as they are forced to review staff classifications.’
 
Yesterday, Gillard told ABC radio that employers had been arguing for decades for one national award for each industry or group of industries.
 
Employers pleaded for one award
 
‘Employers have said to the Federal Government, can’t we have one national award for industry,’ she said.
 
‘So if you were running a restaurant, say in the south of Queensland and you decided that you would like to open a restaurant in the north of New South Wales, then you would be dealing with the same award — one simple, modern award, instead of everything changing when you walked over the border.'
 
‘Now we’ve accepted, and we accepted when we were putting our workplace relations policy together in opposition and campaigning for it in the 2007 election, that employers were right and simple, modern national awards were the way to go.’
 
Gillard said the modern awards would come into operation on 1 January 2010, with a five-year phasing-in period to be overseen by the AIRC.
 
She said the government understood that for some states in particular, depending what their old state award used to say, there might be some changes that they need to accommodate and deal with.
 
Put your views
 
Gillard pointed out that the Commission hasn’t announced the transitional arrangements yet and if employers have views about how that five-year period would best be used ‘then the Commission is all ears to hear those views’.
 
Interviewer: ‘So this 10% rise after 7 pm, and 25% extra for workers who work on Sunday, and the casual rate going from 23% to 25%; that’s not going to come immediately into effect — there will be a gradual process?'
 
Gillard: ‘This is a work in progress. The Commission’s still working on it and the Commission hasn’t finalised the simple, modern awards and it hasn’t made any decisions yet about the five-year transitional period and its door is wide open for advocates of any point of view; employer organisations, unions, people who want to have a say, to go to the Commission and to have their say on how this should work.'
 
‘So my message to employers in the industry generally, in restaurant and catering and indeed, in every industry, is the Government listened to them.'
 
‘We know that they wanted simple, modern awards, that’s what they told us and it’s what they told the former government, indeed it’s what they told the last Labor Government — that’s how long employers and their organisations have been fighting for real award modernisation.’
 
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