‘Toss out award conditions,’  says Labor insider

News

‘Toss out award conditions,’ says Labor insider

A former ALP adviser has urged the Federal Government to further deregulate the labour market and rely solely on the NES and award wages as protection for employees in a bid to increase flexibility.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

A former ALP adviser has urged the Federal Government to further deregulate the labour market and rely solely on the NES and award wages as protection for employees in a bid to increase flexibility.
 
Corin McCarthy, an adviser in opposition and government to Minister for Small Business Craig Emerson, also believes ‘radical’ unions like the ETU should end their affiliation with the ALP.
 
Writing on the website On Line Opinion, McCarthy said keeping award wages would retain penalty and overtime rates but remove the other conditions applying in awards.
 
‘For Labor this would be a more ideal position than the one they are in,’ he said.
 
McCarthy said the recent case of young workers losing their jobs because they could only work 90-minute shifts rather than the legal minimum of three hours showed the current system retards innovation and flexibility.
 
Outmoded view
 
McCarthy said Fair Work Australia ‘enshrines an outmoded view that markets inherently mean inequality and the best way of getting “balance” is by the powerful hand of regulation’.
 
‘While in practice most small businesses will probably ignore the minimum three-hour requirement and keep their kids on in after school jobs, this is still the undemocratic nanny-state gone mad,’ he said.
 
‘It is the powerful regulator making “decisions” when workers and bosses have agreed “fair” terms. This looks to be an emerging hallmark of Fair Work Australia’s interpretation of the National Employment Standards and the new awards.’
 
‘This could be an overreach, though not as extreme as Howard’s WorkChoices from the other side, but certainly out of kilter with the wishes of Rudd’s working families.’
 
Inflexible restraint
 
‘According to (ETU Victorian state secretary) Dean Mighell, Rudd Labor “caved-in” to business demands, yet from the point of view of after-school casual workers, such rules and powers are an inflexible restraint on their capacity to participate in the labour market.’
 
‘This is the space that a re-vitalised Tony Abbott-led opposition is trying to take and one that Rudd Labor should shut down by getting to first. Whether Abbott can steer a course that supports more flexibility without diminishing worker’s pay will be his test.’
 
McCarthy said that in recognising 2600 awards needed to be reduced to 122 Rudd Labor has understood that awards stop innovation and flexibility in industrial relations.
 
‘So, taking this argument to its logical conclusion, there is no reason that the 10 National Employment Standards along with the award wage rates (rather than the conditions) cannot act as an appropriate safety net for workers.’
 
‘Keeping award wage rates would retain penalty and overtime rates but remove the other conditions applying in awards. For Labor this would be a more ideal position than the one they are in.’
 
Nanny-state approach
 
‘The centre ground of politics on industrial relations would protect workers adequately and will also remove the nanny-state overreach of such award conditions.’
 
‘People could also be encouraged to work through a negative income tax or tax credits, a real bargain from society that inequality is best solved by the tax and transfers system, not by the cold dead hand of the judicial regulator.’
 
‘The union dinosaurs may object, but it’s time for that fight to be had. This would be no return to WorkChoices: it would be the taking of the centre ground, benefitting workers in the service economy to participate and find work.’
 
‘That working families want their children to move up in life is the very definition of the social market economy. That position is open in this election year.’
 
Danger to wider society
 
Criticising the role of some unions in fighting to preserve workplace regulations, McCarthy said that like many true believers Mighell ‘genuinely believes in the orthodoxy that a very powerful union movement has created a fairer Australia’.
 
‘His politics and his union are a mechanism to achieve wage rises for his workers, whether they are affordable to business or not, and he does not recognise his danger to wider society,’ he said.
 
‘He wants the insiders, his union, to be able to more actively set wages for his members, in spite of the “side effects” this might cause to outsiders like the unemployed and small business.’
 
Post details