Modern awards could be as bad as the old ones: ACCI

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Modern awards could be as bad as the old ones: ACCI

A leading employer organisation is concerned that the modern awards being created by the AIRC will be just as inflexible as the old ones.

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A leading employer organisation is concerned that the modern awards being created by the AIRC will be just as inflexible as the old ones.
 
Peter Anderson, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), has warned that many of the new industrial awards operating from 2010 will not meet flexibility and productivity objectives if old award rules are simply translated into the modern award system.
 
‘Creating national industrial awards is difficult,’ Anderson said.
 
‘The new system must be given a chance to work but cannot be quarantined from criticism.'
 
‘Not worth the trouble’
 
‘Today’s award modernisation will not be worth all the trouble if awards end up looking like the old set of rules again or tie up industry with inefficient work practices.’
 
Anderson said that although the AIRC is doing a ‘worthy job’ rewriting industrial awards, most of the modernisation is amalgamating existing awards to reduce numbers but is not making the content modern.
 
Flexibility
 
‘Some unions have already set up disputes because the employer wanted the type of flexibility that the government had promised,’ he said.
 
[The AMWU was recently in dispute at Campbell’s Soups over whether the flexibility clause could override enterprise agreements for individual workers. The company agreed such ‘flexibilities’ would have to be voted on by all the workers affected.]
 
‘In some states and in some industries labour costs will go up not because an employee is working differently but because awards are being amalgamated into fewer numbers. Action by chambers of commerce and industry associations have achieved phasing in periods for many of these costs.'
 
Content more important
 
‘The complexity of a large number of awards applying in a single workplace may be reduced, but content is more important than numbers.’
 
Anderson said the draft ‘Miscellaneous Award’ decided last Friday risked expanding award regulation into the unknown, including some areas of managerial and professional employment.
 
‘This has generated uncertainty for no good reason,’ he said.
 
‘A modern safety net is needed, but an amalgam of old rules dressed up as new awards does not have history on its side.’
 
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