Fair Work changes must suit our agenda: Greens

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Fair Work changes must suit our agenda: Greens

The Greens have warned the Federal Government that any changes to the Fair Work Act will need to be consistent with ten ‘principles’ if they are to get through the Senate.

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The Greens have warned the Federal Government that any changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 will need to be consistent with ten ‘principles’ if they are to get through the Senate.

A review of the Act is to be released in coming weeks, and the government is under pressure from business to provide more flexibility and rein in union industrial action over agreement negotiations.

Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt said the principles would underpin the Greens’ approach to any negotiations with Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten and the government on legislation.

‘The Greens want to put people back at the centre of our workplace laws,’ Bandt said.

Simple test
 
‘People should be able to submit our workplace laws to a pretty simple test, namely: “Do these laws help me have a well-paid job, have a good personal and family life and protect my rights at work?”’
 
‘If the government wants to change the Fair Work Act after the review is handed down, it will need to negotiate either with the Greens or the Coalition.’

‘If the government chooses to negotiate with us, we will seek our own amendments to the Fair Work Act consistent with these principles.’

‘Australia must shift to a new, clean economy based on low pollution, high skills and high wages.’

‘Central to the shift to a clean economy is an industrial relations system with a strong safety net that facilitates effective collective bargaining and employee involvement in change.’

10 principles
 
The ten principles are:
  1. Australia must shift to a new, clean economy based on low pollution, high skills and high wages. Critical to this is an industrial relations system with a strong safety net that facilitates effective collective bargaining and employee involvement in change.
  2. The Fair Work Act needs to make work–life balance a priority. ‘Flexibility’ must become a two-way street. People need greater control over their working hours and arrangements.
  3. The Act needs to place greater emphasis on tackling unemployment and job insecurity.
  4. Parties need better access to dispute settlement. (In particular, we need to close the loophole that prolongs state public sector disputes by denying (eg teacher and nurses) access to full arbitration. Enterprise agreements should also require effective and binding dispute resolution mechanisms.)
  5. Fair Work Australia should have more tailored powers to deal with industrial action. (FWA should consider whether any extreme industrial action is being done for tactical purposes to achieve a workplace determination. FWA should have power to issue tailored orders to remove the ‘harmful’ component of industrial action.)
  6. The government should complete the ‘unfinished business’ of repealing the WorkChoices restrictions on employees’ bargaining, not add further restrictions.
  7. Australian law should comply with international law. (This includes employers and employees being able to bargain about matters relevant to their social, economic and environmental interests. Agreements should be between at least two parties.)
  8. Minimum standards should not be diminished and individual workplace arrangements should not override collective agreements or minimum standards.
  9. Workplace laws and migration laws need to be better aligned. (Australian minimum standards should apply on all resource and construction projects, including those offshore. Arrangements like Enterprise Migration Agreements should be regulated and more transparent.)
  10. The major barriers to productivity growth are education and skills, infrastructure, and innovation, not industrial relations laws. (Productivity Commission evidence suggests that the lowest rate of productivity growth coincided with the period of WorkChoices. Employer groups have not made out a case that current industrial relations laws are slowing productivity growth.)

 

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