Green light for FWA as Transition Bill passes

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Green light for FWA as Transition Bill passes

The Government’s Fair Work transition legislation has passed through the Parliament, clearing the way for the new laws to begin operating on 1 July.

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The Government’s Fair Work transition legislation has passed through the Parliament, clearing the way for the new laws to begin operating on 1 July.
 
ACCI acting chief executive, Greg Evans, said the passing of the legislation meant employers now have some certainty in transitioning into the new industrial relations system.
 
All the Opposition’s amendments to the legislation were defeated, but Independent Senator Nick Xenophon’s amendment that the AIRC, in making a modern award, must take into consideration the effect of a new award on productivity, labour costs, and the regulator burden on business, was accepted.
 
Change to BOOT test
 
Xenophon also succeeded with an amendment on the BOOT test, which would enable Fair Work Australia to deal with disputes by comparing entitlements on a line-by-line basis, or on a like-by-like basis.
 
It was also confirmed in Parliament that the Government is looking at making special arrangements in modern awards for the horticultural and aged care industries.
 
Evans said business welcomed a number of Senator Xenophon’s amendments to moderate the impact of the award modernisation process on employers, as well as provide scope to adjust existing agreements to minimise cost impacts where new employment standards apply from 1 January 2010.
 
‘The business community acknowledges the Government’s Fair Work electoral mandate and did welcome a number of elements, including the retention of secret ballots, restricting pattern bargaining, capacity for individual flexibility arrangements, and exempting high income employees from new industrial awards,’ Evans said.
 
Call for moderation
 
‘Employers, however, called for moderation and adjustments in many areas, particularly where this would compromise jobs and employers’ capacities to prosper and grow.
 
‘Unions should now work responsibly with business to ensure that employers are able to weather this current economic downturn, maintain and create new job opportunities, and focus on bargaining outcomes which reward higher pay and conditions for productivity and efficiency improvements based on the needs of individual enterprises.’
 
Evans said employers do have outstanding and legitimate concerns with the Fair Work legislation, including:
  • unions’ enhanced new rights and capacities in bargaining, where only approximately 14% of private sector employees belong to unions;
  • re-regulation of the award system where it imposes additional costs or inflexibilities on employers;
  • the low paid bargaining system; and
  • new arbitration powers.
Concern over unfair dismissals
 
‘Small business is particularly concerned that they once again face unfair dismissal claims,’ Evans said.
 
‘The business community is also concerned that the Government is committed to abolishing the stand alone ABCC from 2010, and watering down the replacement body’s enforcement powers and penalty provisions.
 
‘Business will monitor the impact of the new laws on employers from 1 July.
 
‘The Government should not hesitate to revisit aspects of its legislation where the practical effect is in any way detrimental to business, productivity, jobs, or the economy.’
 
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