Gillard blasts Opposition over modern awards criticism

News

Gillard blasts Opposition over modern awards criticism

IR Minister Julia Gillard has turned the Opposition’s attack on award modernisation back on them, pointing out that they voted for it but are now ‘carping and whingeing’ about it.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

IR Minister Julia Gillard has turned the Opposition’s attack on award modernisation back on them, pointing out that they voted for it but are now ‘carping and whingeing’ about it.
 
National Party Leader Warren Truss yesterday asked Gillard is she was aware that the wages paid to strawberry pickers would more than double on Sundays and public holidays.
 
‘Does the minister have a plan to ensure that strawberries only ripen on weekdays, or does the minister expect consumers to pay double for strawberries picked on holidays?’ Gillard was asked.
 
Gillard thanked Truss for voting for the award modernisation process he is now criticising.
 
Reform is difficult
 
‘I would have said about the past Liberal government that there were some people in it who actually came to this parliament to engage in reform,’ she said.
 
‘There were some people in it who actually understood that when you are engaging in reform that matters for the future that that is a difficult process. It requires work with stakeholders.
 
‘When you are engaged in a reform process, yes, I understand that there is anxiety for people and they are watching the process carefully.
 
‘I absolutely understand that, which is why I maintain a very strong dialogue with the employer organisations that represent sectors like the one the member has raised in this parliament.
 
‘But when you are engaged in reform, you work with the reform process.
 
‘At the moment the Opposition are carping and whingeing about this government’s reform and, at the same time, they are not clear about what they would do.
 
Internally divided
 
‘I suspect that they are not clear because they are internally divided, not on the outcome but on the process.
 
‘Their internal division is: should we go to the next election loud and proud as WorkChoices supporters or should we try and hide that fact? Why don’t they try resolving that and being honest about it?'
 
Shadow IR Minister Michael Keenan said enterprises must have some time to absorb ‘the massive spike in wages’ award modernisation would bring.
 
Gillard pointed out that the transition period for modern awards was five years, which would allow for a ‘smoothing’ of the process.
 
The transitional provisions have not yet been announced.
 
More special modern award deals in the pipeline
 
As background to all this, the Federal Government has admitted it is considering making special arrangements for three more industries under its award modernisation process.
 
Earlier this month, IR Minister Julia Gillard directed the AIRC to make a special modern award for the restaurant and catering industry, and to negotiate a special penalty system for that sector.
 
Higher penalty rates
 
The change was made to take the industry out of the modern hotels award, where employers would have been facing considerably higher penalty rates.
 
Since then dentists and vegetable growers have demanded special consideration, as have retailers and pharmacists.
 
Senator Mark Arbib, the Minister for Employment Participation, told the Senate this week that the Government is now looking at a special deal for the horticulture, retail, and pharmacy industries.
 
Night shifts
 
Senator Arbib said the catering and restaurant industry had raised a number of issues in their operations concerning overtime and night shifts, and Gillard taken that on board and has asked the AIRC to have a look at those issues.
 
He said horticulture, retail, and pharmacy are now under examination.
 
‘I do not think that is any surprise because there is extensive consultation with the sector going on right now,’ Arbib said.
 
‘Again, this is about streamlining these awards — reform that should have taken place in the past but was too hard for those on the other side of the chamber.’
Post details