Govt won’t budge on IR laws in tough times: Gillard

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Govt won’t budge on IR laws in tough times: Gillard

The Federal Government will not change its Fair Work Australia (FWA) IR legislation despite calls by employer groups to do so.

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The Federal Government will not change its Fair Work Australia (FWA) IR legislation despite calls by employer groups to do so.
 
Fears have been expressed about extra cost burdens on employers and union-led wage breakouts under the legislation.
 
Yesterday, the ABS reported a slight rise in unemployment to 4.5%.
 
However, acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said those groups urging changes to the FWA legislation are the same as those who enthusiastically supported WorkChoices.
 
Good for prosperity
 
Asked at a press conference yesterday whether the Government would ‘delay or water down’ its IR changes, Gillard said the legislation was ‘good for employers, good for employees, good for productivity and consequently good for the future prosperity of this country’.
 
‘Let’s remind ourselves that the people who said WorkChoices was good for employment were the people who supported WorkChoices,’ she said. ‘There’s no piece of government modelling, no piece of government paper that verifies that WorkChoices was good for employment.'
 
‘They’re the same people who told us WorkChoices was good for working Australians at the same time data was flooding in telling us about the rip-offs and the way working Australians had been hurt by WorkChoices.’
 
Gillard said FWA was based on enterprise bargaining ‘which the experts tell us is good for productivity’.
 
Gillard was asked whether it is ‘sensible’ to ‘introducing legislation at some stage that hands more power to the unions, drives up wages and costs jobs?’
 
Fair and balanced
 
‘I disagree with every premise of your question because these laws are a fair and balanced package,’ she said.
 
‘These laws are about putting the industrial relations pendulum in the dead centre. These laws are about making sure that working Australians get a fair go at work, whilst at the same time, driving productivity and driving flexibility in Australian workplaces. These laws are balanced.’
 
Asked whether the laws should be changes to reflect the current economic climate, Gillard said they were deliberately designed so that they could be the workplace relations laws of this country in good times and in difficult times.
 
Stable system
 
‘When we wrote the Fair Work Bill, we wrote it to create a stable platform for workplace relations for the long term so that industrial relations laws didn’t need to be re-written frequently; that there would be a stable, understood system for the long term,’ she said.
 
‘We wrote those laws therefore so that they would work in all sorts of different economic climates.’
 
Asked whether there had been any economic modelling on the effects of FWA on employment, Gillard said the Government had looked at ‘those economic studies that talk about collective bargaining and its positive impacts for productivity’.
 
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