Don't forget small business in IR debate, says ACCI

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Don't forget small business in IR debate, says ACCI

The voice of small business need to be heard in the current debate about industrial relations, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) says.

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The voice of small business need to be heard in the current debate about industrial relations, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) says.

Peter Hendy, ACCI Chief Executive, said the current focus on employee rights, in both the union campaign and in government advertising, must be balanced with an understanding of the needs, capacities and rights of small business.

Risk takers

'Small and medium businesses represent a majority of Australian employers and are the modern day entrepreneurs and risk takers, as well as the engine room for jobs growth,' Hendy said. 'Small business owners and their families work long hours, have limited staff, time and resources to deal with new laws, regulations and red-tape, and face many financial pressures to compete and maintain jobs and profitability.'

Less likely to be unionised

Hendy said small businesses are also far less likely to be unionised, meaning that an IR law system based on new union rights is not effective in small business.

He said particular IR issues on which small businesses are concerned are:

  • the re-introduction of unfair dismissal laws
  • new employment standards and increased labour costs
  • difficulty in meeting onerous union or employee requests to work when and where they like
  • intervention by union and tribunals in the right to manage a business
  • the abolition of AWAs
  • compulsory collective bargaining obligations with unions or employees
  • exposure to union strikes if secondary boycott laws are weakened, and
  • new union rights leading to union entry into businesses and pressure on employees to join unions

ACCI discusses this matter more fully in its July ACCI Review, available on the ACCI website.

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