IR news — ABCC; executive pay; fair work appointments


IR news — ABCC; executive pay; fair work appointments

Moves to soften ABCC powers may be blocked in Senate; Tougher rules needed on executive pay, union says; Senior Fair Work appointments.


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Moves to soften ABCC powers may be blocked in Senate; Tougher rules needed on executive pay, union says; Senior Fair Work appointments.
Moves to soften ABCC powers may be blocked in Senate
Moves by the Federal Government to rein in the interrogations powers of the ABCC before it is replaced by the new Inspectorate under Fair Work Australia are in danger of being blocked in the Senate today.
Independent Senator Steve Fielding has declared he will not support the changes saying they could ‘reduce protections against thuggery on building sites’.
‘Over the past decade, there have been reports of bullying on particularly Victorian building sites, so I am worried that any softening of coercive powers is not the way to go,’ he said.
One more vote needed
The Coalition now only needs the votes of the other independent Senator, Nick Xenophon, to block the legislation. Xenophon last night had talks with both the Government and the Opposition and is considering his position.
Changes planned to the current operation of the ABCC would see it have to get written advice from a presidential member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal before using the coercive powers, and allow for legal representation for witnesses.
Current powers ‘over the top’
Meanwhile, a senior Labor Senator has called the current powers of the ABCC ‘over the top’.
Senator Mark Arbib, who represents IR Minister Julia Gillard in the Senate, made the remark while answering a question in the Upper House yesterday.
‘We have kept our commitment to the Australian people to abolish the ABCC and replace it with a new inspectorate,’ Senator Arbib said.
‘At the same time as that we have kept our commitment to put in place procedural fairness.'
‘Why should a worker who is compelled to attend a hearing not be able to take a lawyer with them to the hearing?'
Why not have legal rights?
‘Why should a worker not have legal rights? Why should a worker not be able to tell their family, their friends and their union about the interview?'
‘Some of the provisions were completely over the top. What we are doing is putting balance back into the system while at the same time ensuring that there is a tough cop on the beat.'
‘Activity that is unlawful on those work sites is unacceptable; we stand by that.’
Critical letter ‘kept secret’
Opposition IR spokesman Michael Keenan has criticised Gillard for not making public a letter from current ABCC head John Lloyd, which criticises the recommendations from the Wilcox inquiry into the powers of the new body.
The letter was tabled in the Senate yesterday after the Opposition demanded its production.
Keenan said that in the letter Lloyd claimed the distinct penalties for the building and construction sector are justified.
Tougher rules needed on executive pay, union says
The Finance Sector Union (FSU) has called for tougher rules on executive pay, saying short-term incentives lead to risky decisions.
The FSU today gave evidence to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into executive remuneration in Melbourne.
FSU national secretary Leon Carter said risky business decisions led to the recent collapse of Australian investment firm, Storm Financial in which more than 14,000 small investors lost their savings.
Carter said the collapse of Storm Financial also exposed shoddy risk management at major banks like Commonwealth, which provided financing to many of its investors.
Short-term targets
He said bonuses at banks are mostly linked to short-term targets; the CEO of Commonwealth had 55% of his salary linked to short-term incentives in 2008. Carter said urgent change is needed.
‘In the short-term, Storm Financial looked okay on paper,’ Carter said.
‘Longer-term, we now know it was emblematic of the greed behind the global financial crisis.'
‘But as long as CEO salaries are linked to short-term goals, Australia is giving incentives for high-risk lending like Commonwealth Bank’s.'
High risk
‘Rewarding executives for high-risk, short-term thinking sends a message to everyone.It creates a financial sector that values quantity over quality, and immediate over long-term.'
‘That’s why we’re calling for an end to short-term incentives and a move towards an industry charter of responsible lending. It’s time to stop asking banks to change, and instead start making them change.’
Carter will also speak about the link between short-term-based bonuses and the off-shoring of Australian finance jobs; as well as the need to end generous golden handshakes for departing executives.
Senior Fair Work appointments
Senior Victorian public servant Tim Lee will be Fair Work Australia's general manager and Nick Wilson will continue as the Fair Work Ombudsman, the Federal Government has announced.
Lee is currently the Victorian Justice Department's executive director of community operations and strategy, and he will take up his new appointment on 27 July. He will assist FWA president, Justice Giudice.
Wilson has been the Workplace Ombudsman since April 2006. Before that was the Industrial Registrar for four years. He will take up the new position on 1 July.
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