Employer bodies want new IR laws changed and delayed

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Employer bodies want new IR laws changed and delayed

Senior IR executives from Australia’s leading Chambers of Commerce and Industry Associations have demanded changes to Labor’s Fair Work Bill, saying it brings additional regulation and labour costs at a time of global economic crisis.

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Senior IR executives from Australia’s leading Chambers of Commerce and Industry Associations have demanded changes to Labor’s Fair Work Bill, saying it brings additional regulation and labour costs at a time of global economic crisis.
 
They also want the introduction of the new legislation returned to the original date of 1 January 2010, rather than the new date of 1 July 2009.
 
The executives met on Friday in Melbourne for the first time since the Bill was released last Tuesday.
 
Peter Anderson, ACCI chief executive, said they acknowledged the extensive consultation undertaken by government, and that the Bill enables practitioners to more easily navigate its contents.
 
Additional costs
 
However, serious concern was expressed at the prospect of additional workplace regulation and labour costs being introduced at a time of global economic crisis, a forecast rise in unemployment and a downturn in domestic business activity.
 
The meeting identified significant areas where the Bill needed amendment.
 
These included:
  • a bargaining process skewed to union rights
  • higher wages and conditions in ‘modern awards’
  • new industrial rules affecting outsourcing, redundancies and the sale of businesses
  • wider union entry rights
  • adverse impacts for investment certainty and stable industrial relations in some sectors
  • unnecessarily broad scope for compulsory arbitration of agreements.
 
The meeting also considered it likely that the unfair dismissal system would still generate ‘go away’ money unless the proposed Fair Dismissal Code is given more standing.
 
‘The accumulation of these concerns made the Bill unbalanced in its current form and unlikely to lead to a productivity boost that could fund the higher business costs,’ Anderson said.
 
He said they were capable of resolution by sensible amendments being considered and adopted by the parliament.
 
Ambiguities
 
Anderson said the organisations, together with ACCI, will discuss these issues with the government and non-government parties, and also seek details of proposed transitional arrangements and an explanation of a number of other ambiguities in the Bill.
 
It was also widely agreed that a package of this magnitude needed a period of extensive explanation to industry.
 
‘Concern was expressed at the progressive bringing forward of most elements of the package to a 1 July 2009 commencement date rather than the 1 January 2010 date first proposed,’ Anderson said.
 
The executives will meet again early in the new year to discuss progress.
 
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