IR changes - political manoeuvring

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IR changes - political manoeuvring

As the 1st of July approaches, political manoeuvring around the upcoming IR changes is increasing.

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As the 1st July approaches, political manoeuvring around the upcoming IR changes is increasing.

The Commonwealth Government is trying to rescue support for its industrial relations reforms by commencing a round of briefings with state oppositions, according to NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, John Della Bosca.

The Senate is to inquire into whether Australia’s current form of industrial agreement making is ‘meeting the social and economic needs of all Australians’.

The CFMEU is to use $50,000 it won in costs from the Federal Government’s Building Industry Taskforce to help fund the ACTU campaign against IR law reforms.

Andrews facing internal revolt over IR reforms, says NSW Minister

The Commonwealth Government is trying to rescue support for its industrial relations reforms by commencing a round of briefings with state oppositions, according to NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, John Della Bosca.

Della Bosca said the opposition in most states has largely rejected the IR reform package.

‘The Commonwealth has refused to brief the state governments who actually run the systems serving millions of Australian workers, but has found it necessary to lobby their own state coalition colleagues who are cold on the plan,’ Della Bosca said .

‘The Federal Minister, Kevin Andrews, is clearly preoccupied with getting his own party to accept and support his damaging industrial relations reforms,’ Della Bosca said.

‘Andrews is facing a mutiny from within his own ranks, with the list of coalition senators, MPs and businesses who are critical of the reforms growing daily.’

Quoting Opposition

Della Bosca released the following quotations from senior state opposition figures:

‘I am absolutely opposed to the unitary industrial relations system - I think it's stupid.’ - Queensland Opposition Leader, Lawrence Springborg, ABC.net.au - 30 May 2005.

‘I just can’t support it. I mean, I’m a Western Australian first…’ - Western Australian Opposition Leader, Matt Birney, Lateline - 22 April 2005.

‘Well, I’m arguing that it's not necessarily in the smaller states' best interests.’ - South Australian Opposition IR spokesman, Iain Evans, PM program - 22 April 2005.

‘A centralised Federal system is not good news for Western Australia.’ - Western Australia Nationals Leader Max Trenorden, ABC.net.au - 31 May 2005.

‘State opposition leaders are not policy makers - but Andrews recognises the damage they’re doing to his own job prospects,’ Della Bosca said.

‘His time would be better spent discussing the issue with the state and territory leaders, to enable constructive discussions to take place to ensure any workplace reforms are effective, workable and fair,’ he said.

Della Bosca said Andrews has repeatedly failed to discuss his package of reforms, cancelling three meetings of the Workplace Relations Ministers Council.

Senate to inquire into AWAs and industrial agreements

The Senate is to inquire into whether Australia’s current form of industrial agreement making is ‘meeting the social and economic needs of all Australians’.

The Democrats, with the support of Labor and the Greens, successfully set up the inquiry late last week.

Democrats Workplace Relations spokesman, Senator Andrew Murray, said the Democrats supported both collective and individual agreements but believed there was room for improvement.

‘It has been eight years since Australian Workplace Agreements were introduced into federal industrial agreement making and I think it is time they were reviewed to ensure they are meeting their stated objectives,’ he said.

‘Efficiency and employer flexibility should not be at the expense of employee protection and rights.

‘Given the Government’s recent announcement to overhaul the federal agreement making system and take over the state system, we need more information to properly judge the proposed reforms.’

Terms of reference

The terms of reference for the inquiry are:

The following matter be referred to the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education References Committee for inquiry and report to the Senate on or before 31 October 2005:

(a) Whether the objectives of various forms of industrial agreement making, including AWAs, are being met and whether the agreement making system, including proposed Federal Government changes, meets the social and economic needs of all Australians; with particular reference to:

(i) Scope and coverage of Agreements, including the extent to which employees are covered by non-comprehensive Agreements.

(ii) Capacity for employers and employees to choose the form of Agreement making which best suits their needs.

(iii) Parties’ ability to genuinely bargain, focusing on groups such as women, youth and casual employees.

(iv) Social objectives, including addressing the gender pay gap and enabling employees to better balance their work and family responsibilities.

(v) Capacity of agreement to contribute to productivity improvements, efficiency, competitiveness, flexibility, fairness and growing living standards.

(vi) Australia’s international obligations.

$50,000 from Federal Govt to fund ACTU’s IR campaign

The CFMEU is to use $50,000 it won in costs from the Federal Government’s Building Industry Taskforce to help fund the ACTU campaign against IR law reforms.

The CFMEU received the money in a costs ruling last week after a judge said the failed prosecution by the Taskforce was ‘hopeless’ and ‘without reasonable cause’.

CFMEU NSW State Secretary Andrew Ferguson said the money was part of $287,000 the Taskforce spent on the case which was described by the court as lacking any legal merit.

Andrews said the union thought it was ‘only right’ that the money be used to campaign for the ‘rights of working people’.

In the case Justice Wilcox said: ‘Officials of unions whose members are working in an inherently dangerous place, such as a construction site, have an obligation to those members to take an interest in occupational health and safety issues and the adequacy of insurance arrangements affecting workers on site.’

Related

Federal IR changes 2005

CFMEU background

$100,000 wasted on false prosecution says CFMEU

Union awarded costs in ‘hopeless’ Building Taskforce case
 

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