Bargaining bill passes House of Reps

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Bargaining bill passes House of Reps

The federal government’s Fair Work bargaining bill was debated yesterday and has passed the House of Representatives.

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The federal government’s Fair Work bargaining bill was debated yesterday and has passed the House of Representatives.

The aim of the Fair Work Amendment (Bargaining Processes) Bill 2014 is to prevent strike-first, talk-later protected industrial action, to require productivity improvements to be discussed during bargaining and prevent the Commission from granting a protected action ballot order (which is required for industrial action to be “protected”) in support of what the government calls overly excessive claims.

Labor’s Stephen Jones said in debate that the bill would effectively give the Fair Work Commission the right to determine the matters which may be subject to a dispute, despite the intention of the Fair Work Act’s collective bargaining provisions being to keep the Commission out of this as much as possible:

“You can bet your bottom dollar that one of the objections to that protected action ballot proceeding will be that the claims of one party or the other are manifestly excessive. In determining that part of the dispute, they will in effect be determining the whole of the dispute and will be inserting themselves into the bargaining process” he said.

Speakers for the government stressed its emphasis on productivity  and the importance of ensuring it “is actively considered by employers and employees during negotiations for a new enterprise agreement”.

There will be no further progress on the bill in the Senate until the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee reports on 25 March (the bill was referred to the Committee in December). Submissions closed on 23 January.

Update: This bill lapsed on 17 April 2016.
 
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