Howard approach on IR 'lazy and risky', Rudd tells employers

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Howard approach on IR 'lazy and risky', Rudd tells employers

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has told business leaders they won't 'see eye to eye' on everything in industrial relations, but Australia can have a successful workplace system based on 'fairness and flexibility' rather than John Howard's 'risky and lazy approach'.

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Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has told business leaders they won't 'see eye to eye' on everything in industrial relations, but Australia can have a successful workplace system based on 'fairness and flexibility' rather than John Howard's 'risky and lazy approach'.

Rudd this week addressed an Australian Industry Group (AiG) meeting in Canberra and told them the Howard Government's approach of downgrading wages and conditions was 'the laziest and riskiest'.

The alternative, he said, was to uplift the workforce by investing in their skills and education.

'I want to work with employers and employees to build a balanced system one that delivers for the economy, for businesses and for employees,' Rudd said. 'But in doing, so we must balance the scales of fairness as well.'

Incentives

Rudd said Labor believes in the value of collective enterprise bargaining.

'The research shows that enterprise bargaining achieves higher productivity and wage outcomes than individual contracts,' he said. 'And as I have said, it gives employers and employees reason to use incentives to work together to find ways to lift productivity and share the gains in profits and pay.'

Rudd said he was 'fairly certain' that most of the employees at the businesses represented at the meeting would be on collective enterprise agreements and relatively few of them will be on Australian Workplace Agreements.

'In fact, AWAs failed to attract more than a tiny fraction of the workforce around one in 40 workers until the government made it possible to use them to undercut award conditions,' Rudd said.

Productivity

'The point is, collective enterprise bargaining is the approach that larger employers prefer, and it's the approach that gives the strongest focus to productivity improvements.

'I believe that the economically responsible way to boost productivity is to invest in human capital and to provide flexibility and fairness at the enterprise level. Collective enterprise bargaining plays an important part in Labor's agenda to lift productivity.'

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