Change new IR laws over jump in unemployment: ACCI

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Change new IR laws over jump in unemployment: ACCI

Labor’s Fair Work IR Bill must be amended to allow for more productivity trade-offs because of expected big increases in unemployment, a major employers association says.

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Labor’s Fair Work IR Bill must be amended to allow for more productivity trade-offs because of expected big increases in unemployment, a major employers association says.
 
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has today warned that forecasts released by the OECD this week of an additional 195,000 Australians unemployed by 2010 compel extra moderation in making industrial relations changes.
 
ACCI chief executive Peter Anderson said the unemployment forecasts strengthen the case for amendments to the Fair Work Bill introduced into parliament this week.
 
He said the OECD Economic Outlook for November 2008 forecasts Australia’s unemployment rate rising to 5.3% in 2009 and 6.0% in 2010.
 
‘That would translate to an estimate of between 116,380 more unemployed Australians next year rising to 195,000 the year after,’ Anderson said. ‘These are levels above mid-year government forecasts.'
 
Slowing economy
 
‘They are also forecasts based on existing workplace laws. They do not factor in the impact of additional workplace regulation on business’s capacity to retain jobs in a slowing economy.’
 
Anderson said it was worrying that the proposed period of introduction of the new laws (2009–10) coincides exactly with the period when the OECD has forecast a rise in Australian unemployment.
 
Employee and union rights
 
‘Workplace regulation does impact on economic activity and feeds into the hiring intentions of employers,’ he said.
 
'Though some changes are warranted to existing laws, the Fair Work Bill has a heavy emphasis on new employee and union rights. Over time, these rights impose costs. In some sectors they will be significant. In each business they have to be paid for.'
 
Productivity trade-offs
 
‘Unless the Fair Work Bill is amended to increase the likelihood that employers and small businesses will secure productivity trade-offs in return for these higher business costs, then jobs will become less secure, and the OECD forecasts will be on the low side.’
 
Anderson said the capacity for the new system to provide business with a fair chance to generate productivity from workplace arrangements, and retain as many jobs as possible, needs to be a specific term of reference of the forthcoming Senate inquiry into the Fair Work Bill.
 
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