IR Ministers’ meeting may agree to national system

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IR Ministers’ meeting may agree to national system

Today’s meeting of State and Federal IR Ministers should clear the way for Labor’s new Fair Work Australia legislation to be tabled in Parliament later this month, and show how cooperative the States are willing to be on a national system.

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Today’s meeting of State and Federal IR Ministers should clear the way for Labor’s new Fair Work Australia legislation to be tabled in Parliament later this month, and show how cooperative the states are willing to be on a national system.

The Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council meeting being held in Melbourne today could resolve which powers (if any) the states are prepared to cede to the Commonwealth so a more encompassing national workplace relations system can be set up.

Cumbersome ‘harmonisation’

If the states refuse to refer their IR powers to the Federal Government, a more cumbersome ‘harmonisation’ of state and federal laws would have to occur over time.

The NSW Government is currently pressuring about half of the State IRC Commissioners to accept redundancy. There has been speculation that this could partly be to ‘clear the decks’ for a handover of the IR system to the Commonwealth.

Currently, a national system could only cover corporations, which means around 15% of workers would be covered by their state IR laws. New South Wales has just acted to ‘de-corporatise’ local governments so their workers would not be covered by the existing WorkChoices laws.

National system ‘essential’

In a speech last week, Federal IR Minister Julia Gillard said the implementation of a truly national workplace relations system is ‘essential’.

‘Together with my Ministerial counterparts in the states and territories we have been making solid progress towards nationally consistent workplace relations laws for the private sector,' Gillard said.

‘This will be achieved either by State Governments referring powers for private sector workplace relations or other forms of cooperation and harmonisation.'

Gillard said further discussions on the national system will be ‘front and centre once again’ at the meeting of State Workplace Relations Ministers, which is happening today.

Today’s meeting will reveal how ‘solid’ the progress has been.

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