Crean is ‘steady pair of hands’ on IR wheel

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Crean is ‘steady pair of hands’ on IR wheel

Employer groups and unions have welcomed the appointment of Simon Crean as the new Workplace Relations Minister.

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Employer groups and unions have welcomed the appointment of Simon Crean as the new Workplace Relations Minister.
 
Crean, a former Leader of the Opposition before being supplanted by Mark Latham, has extensive experience in the industrial relations area.
 
He was elected general secretary of the Storeman and Packers Union (which subsequently became part of the National Union of Workers) in 1979, was president of the ACTU in 1985, elected to Parliament in 1990, and was made Minister for Employment, Education and Training in 1993.
 
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Anderson said Crean’s appointment to the Education, Employment, Workplace Relations and Social Inclusion portfolio is a good one.
 
Track record
 
‘He has a track record of working with business organisations on skills and training, of supporting enterprise bargaining with productivity and efficiency goals, and of understanding the need for industry competitiveness in an age of globalisation,’ Anderson said.
 
‘Minister Crean’s challenge is to develop a willingness inside government to alter aspects of its industrial relations system as experience of the fair work laws develops.’
 
‘His immediate headache is that in this first week of his ministry employers and small businesses are facing difficult transitions to new industrial awards, with increasing penalty rates, allowances and loadings in some industries and in some States even though the government promised this would not occur.’
 
The Australian Mines and Metals Association also welcomed Crean’s appointment.
 
‘We acknowledge the new Minister’s extensive parliamentary experience, in addition to his pre-parliamentary career as ACTU leader,’ said AMMA chief executive Steve Knott.
 
Policy deficiencies
 
‘This experience gives the Minister first-hand knowledge of the crucial role productivity plays in ensuring Australia is internationally competitive.’
 
‘AMMA is hopeful that recognition of the policy deficiencies of the past and a fresh commitment to reviewing those deficiencies has the potential to give primacy to productivity improvements and see many of the contemporary workplace issues affecting the resource sector addressed.’
 
‘AMMA welcomes both the new minister’s appointment and the opportunity to review and progress labour relations reforms in a manner consistent with Australia’s national and international interests.’
 
ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said Crean understood the importance of preventing a return to WorkChoices and would be a steady pair of hands on this important portfolio.
 
‘Simon Crean is someone working people can trust and unions know well and can work with,’ he said.
 
‘We expect to have a constructive relationship with Crean to build on the improvements to rights at work under the Labor Government. We need to go forwards on workers’ rights, not backwards to the Liberals’ new version of WorkChoices.’
 
Positive agenda
 
‘Unions look forward to Crean continuing the Government’s positive agenda for working Australians.’
 
‘We are keen to explain to Crean our ideas for the future of Australian workplaces to create and sustain good secure jobs and to drive productivity and economic growth.’
 
‘There need to be further improvements to workers’ rights, including a positive conception of rights for delegates and workplace representatives, ensuring workers have the right to join and have good access to their union without discrimination, intimidation and harassment, and to ensure that workers have a real say in their workplaces and control over their working life.’
 
‘All workers should enjoy the same rights and there needs to be a renewed focus on health and safety standards in Australian workplaces.’
 
Unions ‘rewarded’
 
Opposition IR spokesman Eric Abetz said the Trade Union movement and its former officials ‘are clearly rewarded’ by Crean’s appointment.
 
‘The small business community will find no comfort from this move to the past.’
 
Crean’s major task will be to clean up the mess left in the wake of [new Prime Minister Julia] Gillard’s award modernisation debacle.
 
‘Labor is now beholden to the union movement for policy as they are for the leadership position executed by the unions to install Gillard as leader.’
 
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