IR and OHS wish list from Greens


IR and OHS wish list from Greens

If predictions are right, the Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate after the Federal Election. So, what are their key IR and OHS policies?


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If predictions are right, the Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate after the Federal Election. So, what are their key IR and OHS policies?
Speaking on the SBS Insight program on Tuesday night, Monash University political lecturer Dr Nick Economou said there is ‘no doubt’ the Greens will hold the balance of power ‘on their own, no cross benches’ after the election.
According to Dr Economou, the only question that remains is how many Greens there will be in the Senate.
‘There will be three left over from the last half Senate election and I think they will certainly get one in Tasmania and they may get two more in two other States,’ he said.
‘There could be as many as nine Greens in the Senate after 1 July next year. It doesn’t matter whether there is six returned or one, just one will be sufficient because the combined total of Labor and Green will be somewhere between either 39 or 40.’
With Labor steadfastly refusing to make any changes to its Fair Work Act 2009 and the Liberals  agreeing to leave the new system alone for the first term only, where does that leave the IR and OHS if the predictions for the Greens are true?
More change to come?
Although the Greens did vote to support the passage of the Fair Work Act, it seems likely the party would also support further changes to the IR system, as outlined below.
As with the Liberals, their policies give no indication on their stance on whether the national OHS harmonisation process would continue in its current form.
Both the Greens and the Liberals had insisted on amendments to increase employer and employee representation on the new SafeWork Australia body, set up to oversee the implementation of the harmonisation process.
However, they begrudgingly accepted the Bill’s passage in August last year.
A brief outline of key IR and OHS-related policies from the Greens is provided below.
The Greens would: 
  • allow workers to terminate substandard individual or collective agreements and be covered by a relevant award or collective agreement
  • ensure effective dispute resolution processes are available to all workers, including through conciliation and arbitration
  • require employers to enter into collective agreements with their workforce unless a majority are demonstrably opposed to collective bargaining, with the Industrial Relations Commission to have the power to arbitrate if no agreement can be reached.

  • require employers to inform new and existing employees that they are entitled to join a union, and enable the provision of information about the unions responsible for the sector and industry
  • repeal provisions against legitimate union activity (such as ss45D and 45E in the Trade Practices Act 1974), and protect unions and workers against common law actions
  • legislatively protect the right to strike, as recognised in International Labour Organization conventions No. 87 and No. 98, as a fundamental right of workers to promote and defend their economic and social interests
  • abolish the requirement for secret ballots before industrial action
  • strengthen unions’ right of entry to recruit members, inspect for and remedy breaches of OHS provisions, breaches of the Fair Work Act and relevant awards or agreements, and other activities relating to strengthening workers’ organisations
  • protect the right of trade unionists to have their dues deducted from their wages directly.

  • require Comcare to fund additional industry liaison staff, review provisions under Comcare so that workers receive fair treatment and benefits and are not disadvantaged
  • introduce national industrial manslaughter laws.
  • establish minimum employment standards for trainees and apprentices
  • ensure that relevant training and skills development is made available to all workers, including apprentices, trainees, part-time and casual employees, without loss of pay.
General workers’ rights
  • establish industry trust funds for protection of workers’ entitlements
  • amend the Trade Practices Act to introduce a National Unfair Contracts regime
  • legislate for a mandatory minimum of five weeks paid annual leave for all employees
  • limit the tax deductibility of any executive salaries to 25 times the minimum full-time adult wage.
The Greens also supports the abolishment of the controversial Australian Building and Construction Commission.
The Federal Election will be held on the 21 August.
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