Federal IR on the boil - unfair dismissals, invalid clauses, national wage etc

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Federal IR on the boil - unfair dismissals, invalid clauses, national wage etc

The Federal Government’s IR agenda came to the fore this week with Parliament debating proposed legislation on: the validation of existing federal agreements in the light of the High Court’s Electrolux decision; exclusion of small business from unfair dismissals law; and right of entry provisions for union officials.

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The Federal Government’s IR agenda came to the fore this week with Parliament debating proposed legislation on: the validation of existing federal agreements in the light of the High Court’s Electrolux decision; exclusion of small business from unfair dismissals law; and right of entry provisions for union officials.

The right of entry legislation was covered in a previous article.

Validation legislation has also been covered in a previous article. A gloss to this legislation has been proposed by the Democrats.

In addition, the federal government will move today to delay the 2005 National Wage Case until after the May budget.

'Invalid' industrial action OK – proposed by Democrats

The Australian Democrats have amended the Government’s Electrolux validation laws to ensure that employers cannot sue unions for taking industrial action in support of matters that are now deemed invalid.

The amendment was supported by the Coalition and Labor.

The Democrats’ Workplace Relations spokesman, Senator Andrew Murray, said the Government’s Bill left them uncertain whether industrial action previously thought to be protected action would turn out later to be ruled unlawful.

‘The Governments Bill only provided certainty with respect to the validity of agreements and while we thought it would be unlikely employers would take retrospective legal action we felt it was better to avoid temptation,’ he said.

Unfair dismissals – small business exclusion

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews also reintroduced The Workplace Relations Amendment (Fair Dismissal Reform) Bill 2004, after it being refused passage more than 40 times.

The Bill is intended to remove unfair dismissal provisions from small employers with up to 20 employees.

‘This Bill is in response to surveys and studies which have consistently shown that, for the small business community, unfair dismissal laws act as a disincentive to hiring new staff,’ Andrews said.

He said claims by the Opposition that employees will not be protected against unlawful termination are scurrilous and totally wrong.

‘These amendments will not remove protections against unlawful termination for reasons of age, race, colour, sex, sexual preference, physical or mental disability, marital status, family responsibilities, pregnancy or religion. As well all prohibitions against harassment and discrimination under state equal opportunity legislation will continue to apply.’

National Wage Case delay proposed

The Australian Government is to argue in today’s national wage case directions hearing that the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) should delay hearing the case until after the May budget.

The Government believes current and future economic conditions need to be given consideration in determining increases to the minimum wage.

‘It makes sense for the AIRC to delay its hearing of the national wage case until it has all the available economic data at its disposal,’ Andrews said.

‘This will allow substantive discussion of key economic indicators and the impact on jobs, including prospective jobs, for low skilled people of any contemplated wage rise.

‘These groups must not be priced out of the labour market because of the minimum wage being set at a level which is too high, discouraging business from taking on new workers.’

Related

The right of entry proposed legislation

Validation legislation

National Wage 2004

 

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