2001 Federal Election IR policy summary


2001 Federal Election IR policy summary

NB. Bolded text in the table below provides direct comparison of party policies. 


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Source: Australian Business Industrial (ABI)- the Industrial Relations Affiliate of Australian Business Limited(ABL)


    NB. Bolded text in the table below provides direct comparison of party policies. 






    Employee entitlements on insolvency of Company

    • Continue federal government safety net scheme for workers.

    • Workers would receive full payment of unpaid wages, unpaid annual leave, unpaid long service leave and unpaid pay in lieu of notice. They would also receive full payment of the community redundancy standard of up to 8 weeks pay. Payments to be made at the employees wage (maximum safety net payout rate $75,000 per year).

    • Give unpaid employee entitlements priority over secured creditors when business becomes insolvent. Small business exempt from such a law to eliminate any impact on small business lending.

    • Maintain and further toughen industrial and corporation laws requiring employers to meet their responsibilities to pay 100% of employee entitlements.
    • Support for a national scheme based on the principle that employees should receive 100% of the entitlements due to them. ALP Labor conference also supported the decision of Labour State governments not to endorse the conciliations flawed scheme.
    • Support for amendments to the Corporations Law to enable recovery of assets from related corporate entities that use company restructures to deny workers their entitlements. Rejection of Coalition governments scheme which restricts redundancy payouts to just 8 weeks. 
      ** Media statement 11 October 2001 on job security.
    • Labor plan for a small payroll from large companies (more than 20) to be applied to a comprehensive national insurance scheme for all workers' entitlements. Small businesses with less than 20 employees to be exempt so taxpayers to cover this part of the scheme.
    • Employers who offer equivalent degree of protection for employee entitlements do not have to contribute to scheme.
      • Support for provision of a comprehensive national scheme to protect workers entitlements.
      • Tax payer funds only to be used as a last resort.
      • Support for an industry trust fund or insurance for employee entitlements.
      • Advantage of industry trust fund is that funds are guaranteed separately from Company accounts and it can become self-funding over time and encourages Labour market mobility by making long service leave and other entitlements portable.
        * Note however that the Democrats acknowledge that an insurance approach will only suit some Companies and they support choice for employers.


        Secondary boycott provisions in IR legislation

        • Sections 45D and 45E of Trade Practices Act 1974 to remain- apply to all including trade unions.
            • ACCC to be given power to take representative legal action on behalf of small businesses affected by unlawful secondary boycotts that block supply to their businesses.
          • Not mentioned specifically.
          • Industrial matters to be removed from Trade Practices Act 1974 and put into industrial legislation in accordance stronger role of IRC.
            • Ensuring that secondary boycotts are properly and fairly dealt with by law, with access for affected business to relief through the AIRC and courts as appropriate.
            • Support for idea that Companies be required to pay for boycott actions and should not look to the public purse. i.e. the ACCC to fund actions against Unions that do not involve competition issues.

              Unified System of Industrial Relations/ Simplified system of IR

              Process to re-write the WRA 1996 in plain English. Simplification of transmission of business laws( no detail given)

              Not mentioned.

              • Support for idea that regional governments should replace the States. In a unitary, not Federal country, laws would move from multiple states' laws to single national laws. One industrial relations regime would replace six.
              • Support for a move to a single system as long as there is no diminution of rights for workers and the move achieves better coverage of workers not currently within them award system.
              • Support for unitary system for three reasons:
                  - Achieve common human rights across Australia;
                  - Efficient, competitive, and productive enterprises require easily administered rules and law.
                  - Achieving comprehensive coverage.
                  • Take view that harmonisation is an unlikely route to a successful unitary system.
                  • Most effective way to have a single industrial relations system to would be for states to refer powers to the Commonwealth. Alternatively, it would help if all governments agreed on the basic precepts of industrial relations and provided the Tribunals with reciprocal powers with seamless transitions from one jurisdiction to the other.

                Encouraging Workplace Agreements

                • Primary focus of workplace relations to remain on workplace agreements.
                • Support for individual AWAs, collective agreements both unionised and non-unionised. Simplify processes for making of agreements.
                  • Support for workplace based collective bargaining and alternative ways for workers to achieve decent increases in wages and conditions, including through the award system and industry based arrangements.
                  • Enterprise level bargaining desirable but multi-employer agreements better suited to some industries.
                  • Employee choice to be represented by unions and to bargain collectively must be recognised.
                  • Support of abolition of AWAs for being secret, unfair, discriminatory and involving less than 1% of workforce.
                  • Abolition of OEA

                    Giving workers right to secret ballots before strikes

                    Workers to be given right to secret ballot on terms set by AIRC before protected (lawful) industrial action.


                    Role of the AIRC

                    Mediation role for AIRC in cases where protracted workplace disputes - AIRC to be given power to suspend protected strike periods to allow for cooling off and work resumption while conciliation and mediation takes place.

                    Strengthen the independence, authority and resources of the AIRC to safeguard the wages and conditions of employees.

                    • Support for strong, independent and principled umpire in the AIRC. AIRC must be able to protect interests of the low paid, and workers in a weak bargaining position.
                    • Ensuring that AIRC has sufficient powers to end industrial action and resolve the underlying issues by arbitration.

                      Union Membership

                      Legislate to prohibit trade unions involved in workplace bargaining from imposing a compulsory $500 per year fee on non-union employees.

                      Enhancing and defending the legitimate role of trade unions and their rights to organise, to take action on behalf of their members and on behalf of workers generally and to bargain collectively.

                      • Support for Freedom of Association and the right to join or not join a union. A strong case can be made for non-members paying 'fee for service' if they wish to work under conditions negotiated by a union.
                      • Recognition of the legitimate role of unions in protecting the interests of workers who desire representation.
                      • Support for moves to improve the internal democracy and accountability of unions.

                        Award safety net

                        • Coalition to provide an effective safety net of minimum wages and conditions of employment for low paid employees while contributing to workplace bargaining above that safety net.
                            • Support for practical measures to make the safety net work effectively such as developing services of the OEA. OEA affords employment protection through employees and employers who are not members of trade union or employer associations.
                            • Continue to simplify minimum safety net industrial awards independently made by the AIRC.

                          Support for a system of comprehensive, contemporary and relevant awards to ensure security of workers, their wages and working conditions.

                          • Removal of artificial, unnecessary and unfair restrictions imposed by Howard Government matters to be included in awards.


                          • A comprehensive, up-to-date, simplified and usable Award system. Awards must include all of the important conditions for workers as well as operating as a useful employment reference for employers.
                          • Acknowledgement of need for Award safety net but support also for improvements made as a result of Democrats amendments in 1996 to workplace relations. * Policy says that the WR Act overall has been successful in that it has helped to deliver rising productivity, rising real wages and a sharp fall in industrial disputation.

                            Working families

                            Office of Employment Advocate to be required to promote and report at least annually on progress in the making and approval of workplace agreements which facilitate better family/work initiatives.

                            • Labor to assist families to re-claim hours with their children that have been lost to the workplace. Emphasis on reducing working hours and on family-friendly initiatives.
                            • Labor to provide funding of $3.5million for the IRC to examine growth in causal and precarious employment and the impact which this has on families.
                            • Review to cover following things:
                                - trends in working time arrangements;
                                - the nature of, and reasons for, precarious employment;
                                - domestic and international developments in balancing work and family including appropriate forms of leave, flexible arrangements for working hours and other relevant issues; and
                                - the relationship between working time arrangements and work related health and safety
                                • Labor to create a database of family-friendly clauses in awards and agreement when made available to employers, employees and unions.
                                • Support for government quality outside school hours care. Will provide greater detail later in the campaign about improving access to flexible, quality childcare.
                              • Introduction of a 'Fair Hours Fund' to support model agreements. Funds available to firms that within a 12 month period adopt hours agreements that cap overtime, reduce the length of the working week to av 38 hours for full-time workers and create new jobs.
                              • Enterprises that by negotiation with their employees settle on arrangements to convert long hours into full-time jobs or part-time jobs will be given 50% wage subsidies for these jobs. This will reduce long hours, create new jobs and reduce benefit payments.

                                Women in the workforce

                                Public promotion of best practice examples of workplaces which provide childcare facilities or access to workplace childcare, paid maternity leave or access to leave for family caring purposes.

                                • Instruct the IRC as part of the work and life study to investigate Australian and International models of paid maternity leave;
                                • Work with State and Territory governments, employers and unions to expand coverage of paid maternity leave in Australia;
                                • Labor government to legislate to protect pregnant and breast-feeding mothers from workplace mistreatment. Labor to also mount educational program to include workplace guidelines advising people of their rights and obligations in respect to pregnancy.
                                • Carmen Lawrence, speaking at the launch
                                • of the ACTU Checklist for Women in Perth, said the ALP will look at tackling pay equity and health and education issues by looking at nurses and teachers' wages.


                                  • Support for the provision of paid leave for around 12 weeks at the Federal minimum wage of $412 to the majority of women in paid work. Encourage employers to top this up to women's individual normal earnings through local agreements.
                                  • Encourage all State and Federal employers to offer at least 12 weeks paid leave at women's normal wage rate.
                                  • Commitment to a National pay equity inquiry.


                                    Assistance for Small business

                                    • Exempt small business from unfair dismissal laws when employing new employees.
                                    • Restriction of trade union right-of-entry, especially into small businesses.
                                    • Stop trade unions from forcing a small business into the wages and conditions of a federal award unless there is at least one employee who is a union member employed in the business.
                                        • AIRC to have specific regard to the circumstances of smaller employers when making decisions that effect jobs, wages or employment conditions in small business.
                                        • Industrial tribunals prevented from restricting the right of small employers to employ contractors.
                                      • Do not support changes to Federal unfair dismissal laws to exempt employees in workplaces of less than 20 employees from their unfair dismissal rights.

                                        Disadvantaged workers

                                        OEA to assist workers in disadvantaged bargaining position to make workplace agreements within the framework of an effective safety net of minimum standards. Access to the Supported Wage System for all workers with disabilities employed under federal laws.

                                        Support for abolition of OEA and deployment of resources to more effectively enforce awards and agreements in form of Industrial Inspectorate.


                                        Trade Unions


                                        Occupational Health and Safety

                                        Working in partnership with state and territory governments to maintain active national focus, co-ordination and research role on occupational health and safety in the workplace.

                                        • Will work with States to achieve a nationally consistent OH&S framework which reflects best safety practice within Australia
                                        • Increase resources for research and to develop and maintain a uniform national system of OH&S statistics.
                                        • Work with states, industry and unions for complete ban on importation of chrystolite asbestos by 2003.

                                          Unlawful Strike Action

                                          Require the AIRC to make orders ending unlawful strike action promptly (within 48 hours) and allow these orders to be immediately enforced in the federal court, state courts or the federal magistrate's court


                                          Pattern Bargaining

                                          Protected (lawful) strikes to be restricted to genuine workplace bargaining disputes. Unions are not to be permitted to hold industry-wide strikes when making pattern demands on multiple employers.


                                          Responsible Trade Union Behaviour

                                          • Restriction on right of trade union officials to enter and inspect business premises limited to situation where trade union members employed in business have sought union entry.
                                          • Period of notice to be given by trade union officials before demanding entry will be expanded and legal entry rights limited if purpose is purely membership recruitment.
                                          • Support for sourcing the Building and Construction Industry Royal Commission to tackle corruption and coercion in the commercial construction industry.
                                          • Introduction of new mechanisms for workers to democratically vote to withdraw from super unions for more simple registration of bonafide enterprise unions.
                                          • Improving disclosure, accountability and democratic control by trade unions and employer associations in the expenditure of member funds for political purposes.
                                            • Formal recognition of the representative role of union delegates in the workplace.
                                            • Right of union delegates to be consulted before decisions are made that will have a significant effect on employment or work.
                                            • Right of union delegates to have reasonable time off to consult with other workers and participate in the affairs of the union.
                                            • Right to reasonable trade union education.
                                            • Right of union delegates to appropriate facilities for carrying out their role including consulting with workers and their union.
                                            • Right to place appropriate information on a secure notice board which is accessible to all workers.
                                            • Right to consultant union officials exercising their right of entry.



                                              Protection for 100% of superannuation entitlements from theft and fraud and support for requirement that

                                              Superannuation Guarantee payments be made quarterly rather than annually.



                                              • Recognition of the disadvantaged position of outworkers in the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) sector.
                                              • Labor commitment to introducing complimentary federal and state legislation which aims to ensure fair, secure, non exploitive employment of outworkers.
                                              • Support for state legislation to ensure that no outworker in the Australian jurisdiction has fewer rights to legal redress and protection that offered by any other jurisdiction; that the entire chain of clothing production and sale is subject to apparent scrutiny; provision of sufficient resources to ensure effective compliance with legislative protection in each step in the chain of production and sale; and implementation of policies which require governments to ethically source their TCF supplies.

                                                Role of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)


                                                * Choice and Reward in a Changing Workplace - Election 2001    


                                                ** ALP platform 2000 - chapter 8: Income, job and social security for working age Australians Labor's Plan for Job Security 11 October 2001 

                                                • Closer involvement of Australia in the International Labour Organisation, adherence to ILO conventions within Australia and inclusion of Labour protection standards in international trade treaties.

                                                    *** Australian Democrats
                                                    policy platforms - Small business election 2001: Briefing note: Democrat Work Policy Launch: Proposal (undated): Democrats - Employing a Nation Policy Series of policies related to  industrial relations issues which have been updated in preparation for the 2001 Election. (Could not be printed from the  internet).      





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