Hockey asks Rudd to 'please explain' IR policy

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Hockey asks Rudd to 'please explain' IR policy

The Federal Government has demanded Labor leader Kevin Rudd answer 25 questions regarding the party's policy on workplace relations, criticising his delay in releasing key aspects of the platform.

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The Federal Government has demanded Labor leader Kevin Rudd answer 25 questions regarding the party's policy on workplace relations, criticising his delay in releasing key aspects of the platform.

IR Minister, Joe Hockey, has stepped up the attack this week on the ALP's delay in releasing further detail on its IR policy, as Rudd and Gillard have promised to do 'in plenty of time' for the Federal election.

He believes Labor's policy has been delayed because it is attempting to placate business, particularly in the mining industry, over its plan to scrap AWAs.

Yesterday, Hockey released 25 questions for Labor to answer:

  1. Will Labour guarantee the building watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission, will keep its present powers, staffing levels, key personnel and funding before it is scrapped in 2010?
  2. Forward with Fairness is silent on the Building Code and Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act even though they both contribute to the significant improvement in productivity and culture in the building industry. What is Labor's plan for these important laws?
  3. The present right of entry laws provide reasonable access for union officials to access worksites and recruit members. Will Labor retain the existing system or will it allow unions unfettered access to worksites, work facilities as well as employees?
  4. Will Labor maintain the current restriction in the building code that prevents 'non-working' union delegates from being paid to stay on sites and conduct union business for the entire time they are on site.
  5. Forward With Fairness allows unions in the door on nearly every agreement, it re-introduces pattern bargaining, it introduces the concept of so-called 'good faith bargaining', it imposes last resort arbitration and it 'rips up' AWAs. How can Labor claim its policy limits centralised wage fixing?
  6. What is Labor's position on economically-damaging secondary boycotts?
  7. What is Labor's transitionary arrangements for the abolition of the more than one million 'live' AWAs that are likely to be in place by the time of the next election?
  8. How does Labor plan to simplify awards? Will it support the Australian Fair Pay Commission's work simplifying awards and pay classification scales?
  9. What is Labor's policy on forcing employers to provide commercial information to unions? (including details of all employees salaries, home addresses etc)
  10. What is Labor's policy on forcing employers to provide paid leave for staff to attend union training? Will Labor's policy force all employers to provide union membership forms etc to encourage union membership?
  11. Kevin Rudd claimed at his Press Club speech in April to have a 'one in, one out' policy when it comes to business regulation. What will he take out given he plans to put 'in' unfair dismissal laws, extra paperwork for employers to turn down requests for extra parental leave and numerous other layers of red tape.
  12. Under Labor 'there will be freedom to bargain collectively without excessive government rules and regulations' (FWF p13). What prohibited content will Labor allow to form part of agreements? Will there be union preference clauses etc?
  13. Will Labor's policy force employers to hold paid stop work union meetings?
  14. When will we hear what Labor's key business adviser, Sir Rod Eddington, has to say about Forward With Fairness?
  15. Will the ALP force employers to pay superannuation into union funds or will workers continue to have a choice?

  16. Will the ALP force small businesses to negotiate multi-business awards across an industry, notwithstanding the specific needs or location of the business?
  17. Labor said Fair Work Australia will be a 'one stop shop'. They have admitted the Constitution simply does not allow this and now say they are going to set up different divisions. Are these divisions going to be truly independent? How will it work?
  18. Labor is going to establish its new system by agreement with the States but at least one, NSW, has already said it will not agree to hand over its powers. Does this mean the end of a unitary system and a return to a patchwork of state systems?
  19. Does the leaked NSW plan to hold an inquiry about a 'national system' signal a backdoor plan to take over the workplace relations system?
  20. Labor claims Fair Work Australia will have offices in suburban shopping centres. What guarantees can Labor provide that these will not be staffed by present or former union officials?
  21. What limits will Labor place on issues over which industrial action can be taken (eg economic, social, environmental)?
  22. Does the ALP support the use of labour hire arrangements and the capacity of a business to seamlessly contract out aspects of its business when the need arises?
  23. Will the minimum wage find its way into Forward With Fairness II?
  24. How much will Labor's promise for a national employee entitlements scheme cost and who is going to pay for it?
  25. How much will Labor's promise for a portable (ie costly) national long service leave scheme cost and who is going to pay for it?

Labor retorts with one question

In response to Hockey's questions, Labor IR spokeswoman Julia Gillard had just one question for the Federal Government:

'What are its plans for Australian workers after the 2007 Federal election?'

'The Howard Government didn't mention one word about their unfair WorkChoices laws before the last election,' Gillard said. 'The Howard Government didn't tell Australian workers what they planned to do to their rights and entitlements after the 2004 Federal election.

'A leaked brief has shown that a re-elected Howard Government plans to go even further after the election and will force every Australian worker under their extreme laws.

'In April, Labor announced our industrial relations policy, Forward with Fairness. While this is a substantial policy, Labor always said it was not exhaustive and we would build on that policy before the election.

'Labor has promised to announce further policy detail before the election and we will deliver on that promise.' 

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