FWA ‘not fair enough’ for employers, says ACCI


FWA ‘not fair enough’ for employers, says ACCI

The passage of the Fair Work Australia legislation has been welcomed in many sectors, but one employer group says it is ‘not a fair enough deal’ for employers or small business.


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The passage of the Fair Work Australia legislation has been welcomed in many sectors, but one employer group says it is ‘not a fair enough deal’ for employers or small business.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said pressure of politics has won over the interests of employers and small businesses.
ACCI chief executive Peter Anderson said the rush to get rid of WorkChoices has left employers and small business exposed to higher labour costs, extra employment red tape and new tribunal and union powers, with only minor changes by the Senate.
‘Let down’ 
‘Many of these employers and small businesses will feel let down by their government and the Senate, if not today then when these new costs, regulations and unfair dismissal claims start impacting on them and the jobs they offer,’ he said.
‘Major issues such as new powers of unions and tribunals to force employers and small business to pay wages or conditions above legal requirements have not been moderated.'
‘Employers, including small business, have been left exposed to significant new penalty rates, overtime and leave costs in the so-called modern awards. Unfair dismissal laws are still coming back.’
Anderson said that when the Senate deals with remaining government Bills, putting in place transitional and consequential rules for the new IR system, the employers and small businesses of Australia will expect a more balanced outcome from their Government and the Senate.
A challenge for employers: Ridout
Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) chief executive Heather Ridout said employers face big challenges in understanding the requirements of the IR system.
‘The consultation process was comprehensive and constructive and clearly the Government was put under huge pressure from all sides,’ she said.
‘Employers had little to gain and much to lose and AiGroup has worked extremely hard to achieve a workable outcome for employers.’
Ridout said some last minute changes won for employers included:
  • provisions that only allow union officials to access pay records of non-union members with the agreement of the employee or by order of Fair Work Australia
  • workable greenfields agreement provisions
  • important changes to the bargaining framework to ensure that employers cannot be forced to make concessions during bargaining, and that appropriate criteria apply for majority support determinations and scope orders
  • provisions that enable employers to retain national long service leave schemes in enterprise agreements
  • improved transfer of employment laws.
‘Major step forward’, says ACTU
The ACTU said the new IR laws are a ‘major step forwards for working Australians’.
ACTU president Sharan Burrow said the laws would deliver:
  • genuine rights for workers to collectively bargain and be represented by their union
  • unfair dismissal protection for all workers — with workers in smaller businesses having a longer qualifying period;
  • a robust new safety net of awards and national standards, along with a fair and transparent process for setting minimum wages
  • an industrial umpire with the teeth to safeguard workers’ rights.
End of draconian WorkChoices: NSW
NSW IR Minister John Hatzistergos said the new IR laws signalled the end of the ‘draconian’ WorkChoices legislation.
‘We will now work with the Commonwealth over the coming weeks and months on developing an appropriate interaction between the NSW system and the Federal system,’ he said.
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