Modernised awards process threatens IT, call centres

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Modernised awards process threatens IT, call centres

A major employer group is concerned that the award modernisation process is treating IT workers like electricians for award purposes and may cause Australia to lose its call centre industry.

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A major employer group is concerned that the award modernisation process is treating IT workers like electricians for award purposes and may cause Australia to lose its call centre industry.
 
The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has put a series of detailed submissions and award proposals to the AIRC totalling more than 1000 pages.
 
In its latest submission, Ai Group chief executive Heather Ridout tells the Commission that while the process is going ‘quite well’ in a number of areas, it has concerns about other sectors such as IT and construction.
 
‘In the drive to reduce the number of awards, Ai Group is worried that the Commission is considering treating IT workers as though they are electricians or manufacturing workers,’ Ridout said.
 
Unique industry
 
‘Ai Group is also concerned at the lack of acceptance, to date, that the Contract Call Centre Industry is a unique industry.'
 
‘It is very different to the industries in which client firms operate, such as banking, telecommunications and aviation, and one which employs tens of thousands of employees on inbound work (eg giving advice) and outbound work (eg telemarketing).'
 
‘Ai Group has argued that unless the Commission changes its preliminary views, the jobs of a very large number of employees are at risk, and Australia risks losing a growing industry which could evaporate overseas very rapidly.'
 
Broad-brush approach
 
‘In the construction industry Ai Group is concerned about the “broad-brush” approach which the Commission is proposing in recognising redundancy trust funds in modern awards.'
 
‘A redundancy fund should only be able to be used if the fund is run in the interests of both employees and employers, and is an established feature of the relevant industry sector.'
 
‘Otherwise the redundancy provisions of the National Employment Standards should apply.’
 
Ridout said the award modernisation process is a huge and ambitious agenda with a tight time frame.
 
Impact on wages
 
‘If we get it wrong it will have a major impact on wages and conditions which in turn could have a major impact on employment in a number of industries,’ she said.
 
Ridout said the AIRC is to be commended on its consultative approach and the amount of analysis and drafting work it has accomplished.
 
She said Ai Group will continue to press its concerns about these issues when it appears before the Commission next week.
 
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