Govt accepts some amendments to pattern bargaining bill

News

Govt accepts some amendments to pattern bargaining bill

The amendments to the Workplace Relations Amendment (Genuine Bargaining) Bill 2002 passed through the House of Representatives yesterday and the Bill now returns to the Senate for debate next week.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

 

The Government has accepted several key amendments to its bill designed to outlaw pattern bargaining in an attempt to get another piece of industrial legislation through, but has thrown out Labor and Democrat demands for the introduction of a good faith bargaining component.

The amendments to the Workplace Relations Amendment (Genuine Bargaining) Bill 2002 passed through the House of Representatives yesterday and the Bill now returns to the Senate for debate next week.

The ALP and Democrats voted down provisions of the Bill giving the AIRC the power to order parties to 'cool off' during intractable disputes. They also stopped the inclusion of a list of factors for the AIRC to consider when deciding whether a party was not genuinely trying to reach an enterprise bargain. That list was drawn from a decision of AIRC Senior Deputy President Justice Paul Munro, in relation to Campaign 2000.

In a statement released today, Federal Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott said the Government was 'determined to achieve as much job-creating workplace relations reform as the Senate will accept and will pursue greater cooling-off powers for the AIRC in the future'.

Under the bill in its amended form:

  • A note is to be inserted immediately below the provision enabling the AIRC to suspend or terminate a bargaining period on the ground that the notifying party is not genuinely trying to reach agreement.
  • This note will refer to Justice Munro's decision. Abbott said this legislative reference to the decision indicated Parliament's approval of Justice Munro's approach.
  • Parties will be able to apply for suspension or termination of bargaining periods affecting an employer, without having to identify the specific bargaining periods involved.
  • The commission will be able to prevent the initiation of a new bargaining period, or to attach conditions to any new bargaining period, where a bargaining period has been withdrawn or suspended, in the same way that the commission can where a bargaining period has been terminated.

Shadow IR Minister Robert McClelland said in a statement today that by refusing to accept an amendment calling for good faith bargaining, the Government had opposed reforms that would help settle bargaining disputes more quickly and fairly.

He said the Government had an 'ideological obsession' with reducing the power of the AIRC as independent umpire. McClelland said the good faith bargaining the Opposition wanted includes 'basic ground rules' like meeting face to face, following agreed negotiating procedures, disclosing relevant procedures such as executive pay rises, considering and responding to proposals and sticking to commitments.

Meanwhile, the Senate last night passed legislation to upgrade and modernise the standard of accountability members are entitled to expect of unions and employer associations (see: 87/2002).

Post details