Democrats support Government’s Electrolux Bill

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Democrats support Government’s Electrolux Bill

The Democrats have decided to support the Government’s Electrolux Bill validating the employment-related clauses of certified enterprise agreements. It is now likely to sail through Federal Parliament this week.

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The Democrats have decided to support the Government’s Electrolux Bill validating the employment-related clauses of certified enterprise agreements. It is now likely to sail through Federal Parliament this week.  

The decision to back the Government’s legislation was made at a party room meeting in Canberra this morning. The Bill is expected to be debated tomorrow. 

Government Bill likely to pass

Labor’s amendments, which would validate all clauses in the agreements until their expiry will now fail, though it is still expected to argue its case in Parliament. 

The Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Stephen Smith, has made it clear on a number of occasions that he wants certainty for employers and unions on the matter and that it must be resolved before this session of Parliament ends next week. 

This means that if Labor cannot get their amendments through they will have to support the Government’s legislation. 

The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, said yesterday that the Government would be prepared to look at any ‘technical’ amendments that would improve the Bill. 

However it was committed to ‘the principle of the Bill, that we ought to validate agreements but not those matters which are found to be non-pertaining [to employment-related matters]. 

‘That would be contrary to our whole approach to workplace relations and contrary to what the High Court found,’ Andrews said. 

Asked how the Government would deal with the fact that the High Court and other courts have had some conflicting decisions over what could be included in certified agreements, Andrews said this was not a matter for the Government to resolve.

‘We believe that over a period of time that will be sorted in a way which is understood by employers and employees,’ he said. 

‘We don’t see that it is the role of the Government to step in and say “Here is the list of pertaining or non-pertaining matters”, that is appropriately the role of the court and the Commission.’ 

To the question of how the Bill would affect unions that might have taken what they thought was protected industrial action on a matter that turned out to be non-pertaining, Andrews said any employer or union which sought to capitalise on what happened in the past would be ‘silly’. 

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