Gillard says 'start planting'

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Gillard says 'start planting'

The Minister for Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, has sought to assure the horticultural industry that there will be no industry upheaval over new award conditions due to commence from 1 January 2010.

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The Minister for Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, has sought to assure the horticultural industry that there will be no industry upheaval over new award conditions due to commence from 1 January 2010.
 
In a recent radio interview the Minister stated:
'We've been in an intensive discussion with representatives of people in horticulture, including the Australian Industry Group and others. I understand that there are concerns about the award.
 
Of course we've got to remember that ending up with simple, modern awards was a big demand of employers over decades. We've got an awards system now with more than 4,000 awards. We're simplifying that through the industrial umpire the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to around 130 awards ...
 
From time to time I have varied my award modernisation request if it's become apparent that there's a need for action, and I'm certainly listening closely to the representatives of the horticultural sector and I'll make a decision about these and some other award modernisation matters as soon as possible. But obviously when we're setting awards for the long term, we want to work through a process and get it right.
 
People should go about their planting as they would have anyway. They shouldn't worry about this; they should go about their planting. We've got to remember we're talking about awards that would come into operation on the 1st of January next year and changed conditions would have a full five-year phase in period.
 
So we're talking about sensible, measured change over a five-year period, so people should not be alarmed that something is going to change and change quickly and suddenly. These are new awards with full five-year phase in periods ...'
'Delaying the start ... not good enough'
 
Despite the Minister's words, the Horticulture Australia Council warned Ms Gillard that the horticulture industry would not be satisfied unless she recommended to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) that it drop the following unworkable provisions from the Award:
  • 200% penalty for all Sunday work
  • Monday–Friday 6 am–6 pm span of hours for many pickers and all packing house workers (with all hours outside of this span payable at penalty rates of 150% and 200%)
  • 40% loading on casual pieceworkers.
 
Horticulture Australia Council Chair, Stuart Swaddling, said that growers were concerned that under pressure from the unions the Minister could decide to simply support a delay in implementing the legislation. Under the formal award modernisation process, an implementation period of five years (known as 'Transition arrangements') is permitted.
 
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