FWAct inquiry terms of references leaked

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FWAct inquiry terms of references leaked

The upcoming Productivity Commission inquiry into the Fair Work Act will “put penalty rates, pay and conditions, union militancy and flexibility under the microscope,” based on a leaked copy of the terms of reference obtained by Fairfax Media.

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The upcoming Productivity Commission inquiry into the Fair Work Act will “put penalty rates, pay and conditions, union militancy and flexibility under the microscope,” based on a leaked copy of the terms of reference obtained by Fairfax Media.

The terms of the inquiry were originally due to be released today, but the launch of the review was postponed until after upcoming state elections in Tasmania and South Australia and possibly the recently-announced new Senate election in Western Australia next month.

According to the leaked document, the inquiry will focus on the FWAct’s impact on unemployment and under-employment, productivity, business investment and the labour market’s ability to respond to changing economic conditions.
 
Opposition expected
 
The Sydney Morning Herald reported the inquiry’s broad scope “will open the door to warnings from Labor and the union movement that the Abbott government plans to impose a WorkChoices-style system of individual contracts.”
 
Responding to reports about the leaked terms of reference on ABC Radio this morning, Workplace Relations Minister Eric Abetz said that: “We are not doing anything more and anything less than a comprehensive and broad review of the laws, and a thorough analysis, which is exactly what we promised. As we said we would task the Productivity Commission with doing that.
 
“There is a growing demand to have a look at many of our workplace relations laws. The Coalition has been very clear that all we will seek to do in this term of government is to implement our policy. Any proposals that may arise out of this review will be considered and if they’re adopted we will take them as part of our policy platform to the next election.”
 
The terms of reference, which have not yet been signed off by cabinet, state that recommendations should ''maximise outcomes for Australian employers, employees and the economy, bearing in mind the need to ensure workers are protected, the need for business to be able to grow, prosper and employ and the need to reduce unnecessary and excessive regulation''.
 
The Productivity Commission review will be considered in the context of the recently-announced royal commission into the union movement, the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), the Modern Awards Review and other changes to the Fair Work Act.
 
At this stage, the commission is due to deliver its report in April 2015, giving the Government time to act on recommendations before the next federal election.
 
Workplace system 'on trial', unions claim
 
The union movement was swift to reply to the leaked document, with ACTU president Ged Kearney saying: “The terms of reference revealed today put the whole workplace system on trial — pay and conditions, rights at work, collective bargaining and unfair dismissal are all on trial by the Productivity Commission.
 
“Workers need to understand the scope of this review, because its outcomes will have a direct impact on them.
 
“The Productivity Commission review will be the platform by which the Government can change the laws that protect Australian workers and make it easier for business to cut take home pay,” Kearney said.
 
Opposition workplace spokesman Brendan O'Connor accused the government of attempting to ensure ''its attack on workers' pay and conditions is hidden'' until after the state elections.

''Tony Abbott knows workers will lose as a result of his Productivity Commission review, that's why details are being kept secret until those elections are run and won.”
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