Federal IR reform blocked

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Federal IR reform blocked

The Howard Government’s proposed IR legislation is unlikely to become law, the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Committee Inquiry Report indicates.

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The Howard Government’s proposed IR legislation is unlikely to become law, the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Committee Inquiry Report indicates.

 

The Australian Democrats have expressed opposition to most of the legislation in its current form.

Proposed legislation

The Bills are: the Workplace Relations Amendment (Award Simplification) Bill 2002, the Workplace Relations Amendment (Better Bargaining) Bill 2003, the Workplace Relations Amendment (Choice in Award Coverage) Bill 2004 and the Workplace Relations Amendment (Simplifying Agreement-making) Bill 2004.

The suite of legislation would, if passed, make some important changes to federal industrial law – including:

  • reduce the number of allowable award matters from 20 to 17;
  • give the AIRC the power to order a cooling-off period during bargaining if it would help parties to resolve issues between them;
  • give the AIRC power to suspend or terminate a bargaining period on application by a third party directly affected and sustaining significant harm as a result of industrial action;
  • reverse the Federal Court's Emwest decision allowing unions to take industrial action in pursuit of extra claims during the life of an agreement;
  • bar claims not pertaining to the employment relationship;
  • bar unions from taking industrial action when they are seeking a multi-business agreement under s170LB of the federal Workplace Relations Act 1996;
  • repeal the existing s170MM - which prohibits industrial action that involves secondary boycotts - and inserts a new s170MM that ensures that industrial action taken in concert with employees of different employers is unprotected;
  • prevent unions from roping-in employers if they do not employ union members;
  • simplify the procedures for making AWAs to encourage their greater use; and
  • provide an option for certified agreements to have a nominal life of five years.

View the Senate report on the Australian Parliament House website.

The proposed legislation in detail:

Workplace Relations Amendment (Award Simplification) Bill 2002

Workplace Relations Amendment (Better Bargaining) Bill 2003

Workplace Relations Amendment (Choice in Award Coverage) Bill 2002

Workplace Relations Amendment (Simplifying Agreement-making) Bill 2004

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