FW Act review — more negative comment


FW Act review — more negative comment

Business and employer groups have continued to comment on the changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 recommended in the review report released last week — finding the review to be generally unsatisfactory.


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Business and employer groups have continued to comment on the changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 recommended in the review report released last week — finding the review to be generally unsatisfactory.

No consolation for small business
The Fair Work Act review has failed to tackle the concerns of small businesses, Acting NSW Premier Andrew Stoner said today.

‘The clear message from small businesses has been that the one size fits all approach under the Fair Work Act is making life incredibly difficult for them,’ Stoner said.

‘A family-run small business just shouldn’t have to deal with the same compliance levels as a company that employs 100 people.’

‘Worse yet, small businesses who have sought advice about compliance have been told by Fair Work Australia to instead obtain independent legal advice — another financial burden they can hardly afford.’

‘In regional NSW, the hospitality and tourism industry has been hit particularly hard, with penalty rates constraining the employment of additional staff in small businesses.’

Mr Stoner called on the Federal Government to begin consulting with the states.

Fair Work Review recommendations fail to address resource project agreement delays
‘The Fair Work Act review has failed to address major issues within the greenfield agreement framework that is seeing one-in-five new resources projects put at serious risk due to ongoing union stalling tactics,’ said the mining industry.

‘Research conducted by resource industry employer group AMMA and RMIT University recently found that 19% of employers had experienced unions refusing to make agreements on new mining, oil and gas projects — many worth billions of dollars to the economy.’

‘Despite several peak industry bodies backing AMMA’s call for reform to the way greenfield agreements are negotiated, the Fair Work Review recommendations handed down … failed to address the real issues.’

‘While there has been some recognition there are problems in the greenfield framework at page 169, the solutions proposed by the Fair Work Act review panel miss the mark and risk making matters worse,’ says AMMA executive director, industry Minna Knight.

‘Given that average earnings in the mining industry are sitting at around $120,000 a year, the greenfield determination process should really come down to a simple assessment of terms and conditions to ensure they satisfy the BOOT.’

‘This is a crucial area of reform for the resource industry and a missed opportunity if the government does not amend these recommendations before implementing them.’

Fair Work Act review disappoints builders
‘The Review Panel investigating the operation of the Fair Work Act has sidestepped many, real on-ground issues in its assessment,’ said the Master Builders.

Master Builders CEO, Mr Wilhelm Harnisch, today criticised the Panel’s report as an exercise in denying the reality of on-ground problems.
‘Apart from the recognition that the Fair Work Act is stopping the timely introduction of greenfields agreements, the report fails to address a number of stark realities faced by builders every day,’ he said.

‘The Report’s findings are at odds with day-to-day reality of builders. The Report says that the regulation of contractors under enterprise agreements was a matter that has been before the courts for many decades. The Panel had an opportunity to recommend change so that the illegitimate regulation of contractors via enterprise agreements could be curtailed. Unions are using “sign up or else” tactics to push contractor clauses that would, in the commercial world, constitute a breach of trade practices legislation.’
‘Instead of offering a solution, the Panel has pointed out that history should be repeated and that more litigation will sort out the problem. Master Builders rejects the proposition that further litigation on this subject is the best and most workable solution to a problem caused by unions seeking to act as gatekeepers of who may operate on building sites and under what terms. The regulation of contractors via enterprise agreements is an immediate and productivity damaging practice that should be addressed, not sidestepped.’

Expert panel suggests Fair Work Australia is not Fair Work: retailers
Among some of the more bizarre proposals from the expert panel reviewing the Fair Work Act is one that the words ‘Fair Work’ be removed from the name of the Act and that it should be changed to a title which more aptly denotes its functions, said retailers.

Robert Mallett, spokesperson and director of the National Independent Retailers Association (NIRA) said that ‘the cost of this change, probably a few hundred thousand dollars in new letterheads and changes to websites and publications, pales into insignificance with the increased costs of red tape and loss of productivity if other recommendations are accepted in full by Minister Shorten’.

‘Particularly disappointing is the recommendation 10 that the FW Act be amended to require an employer, upon making a flexibility arrangement, to notify the Fair Work Ombudsman in writing of the complete details of the flexibility arrangement … [creating] more red tape …’

Fair Work review must make manufacturing smarter
Meanwhile, the AMWU says the Fair Work review and the Federal Government’s response must address the industry’s challenges by supporting skills and collaboration rather than heed calls for a race to the bottom on rights and conditions.
Acting national secretary Paul Bastian said that the government’s response to the Fair Work review must seek to develop high-skilled, high-wage and high-trust workplaces to provide a sustainable and competitive manufacturing industry.

‘The public recognises that manufacturing is a critical industry to Australia’s future. But it faces significant challenges from the high Australian dollar, rising global manufacturing capability and a decade of lost productivity growth.’

‘Industry problems, such as those faced by the manufacturing sector, require industry solutions.’
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