Beazley promises to put WorkChoices into reverse

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Beazley promises to put WorkChoices into reverse

A Beazley Labor Government would put collective bargaining at the core of its IR system, reintroduce unfair dismissal laws for all workers, and give unions a guaranteed role in OHS training, the ACTU was told today.

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A Beazley Labor Government would put collective bargaining at the core of its IR system, reintroduce unfair dismissal laws for all workers, and give unions a guaranteed role in OHS training, the ACTU was told today.

All three key planks of Labor's IR policy are certain to outrage employer organisations as they reverse the direction of the Howard Government's WorkChoices legislation.

However employers are likely to welcome his further commitment to work with the States to build a 'truly national' industrial relations system.

Opposition Leader Kim Beazley told the 2006 ACTU Congress in Melbourne he would 'build a modern and balanced industrial relations system with collective bargaining at its core - and I'll do it for the future of our kids'.

Party of collective bargaining

'The Party I lead is unashamedly the party of collective bargaining, and collective agreements,' he said.

Beazley said his Labor Government will use all the powers available to it under the Australian Constitution, for the purpose of legislating 'a modern, flexible and fair industrial relations system'.

'We know that whatever the High Court decides, some employees will still be covered by State systems,' he said. 'I know I can only build a truly national system if I work with the States - with options like uniform Commonwealth/State legislation or harmonisation. Under no circumstances will I ride roughshod over the States like John Howard. This is the only sensible way forward.'

Beazley said that under his Government:

  • If a majority of employees want a collective agreement, they will get one;
  • Employees and employers will be required to bargain in good faith; and
  • There will be no employer greenfields agreements.

Beazley said his system 'requires employers, employees, industry associations and unions all to act fairly and in good faith'.

Everyone treated the same

'Under Labor's system, everyone is treated in the same way, subject to the same rules,' he said. 'Where any party acts in bad faith, the independent umpire can step in to get them back to the negotiating table, to act fairly.'

Beazley told the ACTU Congress delegates his IR policy in government would:

  • Abolish AWAs and statutory individual contracts;
  • Protect all Australians from the threat of unfair dismissal;
  • Allow a role in the education of workers - especially in occupational health and safety training;
  • Abolish penalties and fines for trying to negotiate childcare and other family friendly provisions in workplace agreements, which are currently prohibited matters;
  • Protect penalty rates for working on public holidays;
  • Work cooperatively with the States to deliver a modern, flexible and fair industrial relations system; and
  • Restore minimum standards supported by a modern award system.

'Unlike John Howard, I won't fix all the rules to favour one side. I believe in a fair balance in the roles of employers and employees,' Beazley said.

'Gone too far'

He said the next time Australians go to the polls they will get 'the choice they didn't get last time - to say No Mr Howard - you've gone too far'.

Unions will accept 'no' vote on collective agreements, says Combet

Meanwhile the ACTU will respect the decision of workers who vote against having a collective agreement in their workplace.

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said yesterday the union movement would accept the decision of the majority of workers at a workplace.

'I want to make that absolutely clear,' Combet said. 'If the majority say "no, we don't want a collective agreement", we accept and respect that.'

Minds might change

However he said people often changed their mind, or the workforce might change, and unions did not want the door closed for ever.

Combet's statement brings the ACTU closer to ALP policy which says that, under a future Labor government, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission would be directed to ratify a collective agreement only if a majority in a workplace voted for it in a secret ballot.

Full Speech

The Full text of Beazley's speech.

Related

Labor's new IR system - how it will work - June 2006

  

 

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