Catholic Church expresses concerns on Govt IR changes

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Catholic Church expresses concerns on Govt IR changes

A major Catholic social justice body has expressed concern over the Federal Government’s forthcoming industrial relations changes.

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A major Catholic social justice body has expressed concern over the Federal Government’s forthcoming industrial relations changes. 

In a briefing paper on the changes, the Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (ACCER) says its major concerns are with:

  • wage fixing,

  • unfair dismissals,

  • minimum conditions,

  • awards and agreement making,

  • and the functions of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

‘In particular, these [concerns] focus on the Government’s current proposals to change the wage fixing system by introducing a minimum wage fixed by reference to the single adult employee; abolish unfair dismissal rights for employees of corporations employing 100 or less employees; and change the no-disadvantage test that is applied to the making of collective and individual agreements,’ the paper says. 

The system

‘Part of the Government’s proposals is the introduction of a national workplace relations system.

‘ACCER is open to this kind of system provided that it is supportive of the essential values and principles necessary for cooperative employment relations.’

The briefing paper is intended to assist the Church in its consideration of the changes and contribute to public discussion. 

Dignity of work

ACCER says Catholic social teaching on work starts from ‘the nature and dignity of humanity and work’.  

‘Employees cannot be treated as commodities, nor can their labour be treated in purely economic terms,’ ACCER says.  

‘Employees have the right to just minimum wages and to just and safe working conditions and every family has the right to sufficient income through work.’

ACCER says Australia is now engaged in a discussion about employment law and industrial relations that is ‘important to each and every one of us, to our families and to the future of our country’.  

Social justice

It says the Catholic Church has developed teachings on work and the employment relationship over the past century.  

The paper says ACCER, an agency of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, has examined the Government’s proposed changes within the context of this body of Catholic social teaching and the Church’s collective and diverse experience as an employer. 

It says a final assessment of the proposed changes must await the tabling of the legislation in the Parliament and the undertaking of further consultation. At that stage, a further briefing paper will be prepared. 

However it notes that social justice is also an essential element of a good economic system.

‘Importantly, the relationship between employers and employees must be balanced and be a genuine partnership to achieve economic and social goals,’ ACCER says.  

‘ACCER will work with all sides of politics, unions and employer groups to ensure that this balance is achieved in the proposed reform of Australia’s workplace relations system’.

Full discussion

The full discussion paper can be found online at ACCER

Related 

Federal IR changes 2005

 

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