Agreement reached on workplace relations bill

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Agreement reached on workplace relations bill

The federal Government’s Workplace Relations Bill 1996 is finally set to become law following the announcement on Sunday, 27 October, 1996, of an agreement between the Government and the Democrats.

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The federal Government’s Workplace Relations Bill 1996 is finally set to become law following the announcement on Sunday, 27 October, 1996, of an agreement between the Government and the Democrats.

The agreement between the Government and the Democrats focuses primarily on the following areas:

  • the award system (the number of allowable award matters will be increased to 20 to include coverage of superannuation and outworkers);
  • enterprise agreements (AWAs and non-union certified agreements will be subject to a no disadvantage test, not the proposed minimum conditions test -- AWAs will be vetted by the employment advocate);
  • Unfair dismissals (the proposed provisions will proceed except that all claims will now commence by conciliation in the Commission;
  • registered organisations (the ‘conveniently belong’ rule will remain but the objecting union must not only show that the members of the proposed organisation could more conveniently belong to the objecting union and that those members would be more effectively represented by the objecting union);
  • Right of entry (the proposed right of entry provisions will be replaced by provisions which, among other things, allow unions to enter worksites which have employees who are eligible to be members, and there is no mention of unions needing a written invitation from an onsite member);
  • Secondary boycotts (the secondary boycott provisions will be reinstated into the Trade Practices Act 1974although there will be a qualified exemption for consumer and environmental boycotts);
  • equal remuneration (the equal remuneration provisions of the current Act will be retained); and,
  • youth and training wages (the establishment of approving authorities under the proposed MAATS program, which applies to traineeships and apprenticeships covered by AWAs and certified agreement, will not be at the discretion of the Minister but will have to be any State or Territory Training Authority, any Industry Training Advisory Body or any other body set out in the regulations).

The Minister for Industrial Relations, Mr Peter Reith, in announcing the agreement, considered that the changes actually improved the Bill.

The Minister opinioned that the Bill is likely to commence on either 1 February or 1 March of next year.

On the other hand, the Minister foreshadowed that he was taking advice on whether he would be able to proclaim some parts of the Bill earlier than the totality of the Bill.

For example, the Minister foreshadowed that the unfair dismissal reforms are being closely looked at for an early release. The Minister stated that there was still a lot of work to be done but acknowledged that the unfair dismissal reforms are "a very high priority".

Subscribers wishing to view the full details of the agreement between the Democrats and the Government should go to the federal DIR’s internet home page, the address of which is: "www.nla.gov.au/dir/".

Note that HR Link will cover the details of the Government’s agreement with the Democrats in greater detail in an upcoming report.

 
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