Bosses, workers face off in PC inquiry submissions

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Bosses, workers face off in PC inquiry submissions

Employer submissions to the Productivity Commission Inquiry Into Workplace Relations target enterprise agreements, industrial action, unions and employee terminations, while unions are focused on rights for non-permanent employees and compulsory arbitration.

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As employers target enterprise agreements, industrial action, unions and employee terminations in submissions to the Productivity Commission Inquiry Into Workplace Relations, the ACTU is focusing on rights for non-permanent employees and compulsory arbitration.

AiGroup says in its submission “the workplace relations framework is holding Australia back” and we need to improve our productivity and workplace participation. The employer group has made 10 recommendations to the inquiry, with several focusing on enterprise agreements.

Enterprise agreements should not have a favoured place in the system, AiG says, but instead a voluntary bargaining system should replace the mandatory collective bargaining system in the Fair Work Act and individual agreements should make a return.

The employer group is also arguing for productivity terms as mandatory terms in enterprise agreements (already a provision of the government’s Fair Work Amendment Bill, currently being debated in the Senate) and outlawing of pattern bargaining in industries.

‘Permitted matters’ for bargaining should be tightened and ‘unlawful terms’ should be expanded, while terminating an expired agreement should be made easier.

Industrial action


More curbs on industrial action are proposed, including before the formal commencement of bargaining, and refusing a protected action ballot order if a union is pursuing any non-permitted matters, unlawful terms, a pattern agreement, or unreasonable bargaining claims.

General protections claims


In relation to employee terminations, the reverse onus of proof applying to general protections claims should be removed and there needs to be a list of exemptions, as well as a compensation cap, in order to discourage “speculative and unmeritorious” claims.

Transmission of business, long service leave

 
Other features of the workplace relations framework targeted for change include the transmission of business provisions which AiG says make it “too difficult and costly to restructure businesses” and long service leave which, it says, is “a mess” which requires complete restructuring.

The NES should override the existing State and Territory long service leave legislation and contain a national long service leave standard of 13 weeks' long service leave for 15 years of service. Enterprise agreements should also override these laws, subject to the better off overall test (BOOT).

Cashing out of leave should be allowed, by written agreement between the employer and employee. Portable long service leave schemes have a “raft of problems” and should not be expanded.

Unions


“Unlawful and unacceptable union conduct” requiring tightening of right of entry laws and the “complicated” awards system complete AiG’s list of recommendations.

See: AiG submission

ACTU will ask for three changes


The ACTU has released today the three key changes it will be asking the PC Inquiry to address. It wants a portable entitlements scheme for non-permanent employees and to give casual workers the legal right to become permanent employees.

Second, it is asking for a new right for employees to return to work in their existing role on a part-time basis following parental leave. Last, it wants the Fair Work Act to include compulsory arbitration to resolve deadlocks that occur when employers refuse to bargain in good faith.

United Voice focus on penalty rates


United Voice’s submission focuses on retention of penalty rates as essential income for its members, and is seeking clarification that the Productivity Commission will not be considering penalty rates as part of the inquiry. 

It wants what it says are the “current inadequacies” of the safety net taken into account in respect of any changes to minimum wage rates and conditions. As well, income from tips should be explicitly ruled out by the Commission.
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