Comments on penalties and leave by ACTU secretary stirs reaction

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Comments on penalties and leave by ACTU secretary stirs reaction

The address by secretary of the ACTU, David Oliver, to the National Press Club advocating the entrenchment of penalty rates in the wages system and creating portable leave has stirred some strong reaction from employers and the Coalition.

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The address by the secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), David Oliver, to the National Press Club advocating the entrenchment of penalty rates in the wages system and creating portable leave has stirred some strong reaction from employers and the Coalition.

These two elements — penalty rates and portable leave — have been attacked from a number of sides.

ACCI

Peter Anderson, chief executive of Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACCI), said that these comments did not do justice to Australia’s poor productivity and declining competitiveness that is eating away at the job security of unionists and the viability of the businesses that are their employers.

‘It was a grab bag of demands trying to get as much out of Canberra as unions can before a possible change of government — a union wish list, pure and simple.’

‘Creating portability for sick and annual leave for all workers, and locking penalty rates into black letter law are outlandish demands, with massive economic cost, paid for by loss of jobs, incomes and working hours. If the Gillard government were foolish enough to accept these demands, it would not only be sending itself into electoral oblivion, but taking small businesses and service sector jobs with it.’

‘To enshrine penalty rates in law, the union movement is asking a Greens controlled parliament to be judge and jury of an issue that both sides of politics have deliberately left in the hands of an independent industrial umpire for 50 years.
In perspective, this is a quite a brazen request.’

‘The ACTU rails about insecurity of employment, but targets part-time, casual and contracting arrangements that have proven to be pathways for increased workforce participation by people wanting to work less than full time or take control of their working life through self-employment.’

‘Neither governments nor laws create real job security because those same governments and laws cannot guarantee business security. Supporting the economy and lifting its competitiveness is the real pathway to job security. That should be the central issue of this year’s election campaign for Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and the trade union movement.’

Ai Group

Ai Group’s chief executive, Innes Willox said ‘the idea of a portable scheme for employee entitlements is an old chestnut that’s recycled every few years. Portable long service leave schemes operate in the construction industry and a few other areas, but whenever the idea of a broader scheme has been analysed the massive costs, complexities and problems associated with it become obvious.

‘The idea of legislating for penalty rates is not new either. Whenever this retrograde idea comes up, a quick analysis shows that penalty rates are only appropriate for some types of work and some industries. Many professional, managerial and other employees have compensation built into their annual salary for the hours worked and they would not want it any other way. Penalty rates need to be dealt with in awards, not legislation, so that the needs of different industries, jobs and employees can be taken into account. One size does not fit all,’ Willox said.

ACTU has no confidence in Fair Work Commission: Abetz

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver’s address to the Press Club is a vote of no confidence in the Fair Work Commission said Senator Eric Abetz, Opposition workplace relations spokesman.

‘Mr Oliver’s suggestion of inserting penalty rates and leave entitlements into legislation while there is an ongoing review of the Modern Awards taking place shows he has no confidence in the Commission taking a balanced approach on these issues,’ Senator Abetz said.

‘Also, this regrettably politically charged speech attacks the Coalition whilst pretending to have an “independent agenda”. Mr Oliver posed questions for Mr Abbott but not for Ms Gillard.’

‘Mr Oliver also failed to talk about the growing instances of union boss corruption that still need to be addressed,’ Senator Abetz said.
 
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