Labor backs national IR scheme – in theory

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Labor backs national IR scheme – in theory

The ALP has today indicated support for the concept of a national IR scheme, but opposes the way the Howard Government is going about setting one up.

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The ALP has today indicated support for the concept of a national IR scheme, but opposes the way the Howard Government is going about setting one up. 

Cooperate with States

In a speech to the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association national organisers’ meeting, Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Stephen Smith said it was possible to ‘contemplate a unitary system as a public policy mechanism’.   

‘If we were to start again as a nation with a clean slate, and recognise that we now have a national and an international economy, then you could certainly look at creating a single national system for industrial relations,’ he said. 

‘However, if you’re going to do that now, the sensible way to do that is in cooperation with the States, to seek from the States a reference of powers to construct a single system underpinned by fundamental principles, genuine fairness and with real safety nets guaranteed for working Australians.  

‘It is clear the Howard/Costello Government is not interested in that approach.’   

Fairness should underpin

Smith said the Government was proposing to rely upon the Corporations power and ‘on its own admission that will see incomplete coverage, anywhere from 75% to 85%’.    

Smith said there would be gaps and complexities. 

‘If the Government was serious about pursuing a unitary system from a genuine public policy point of view, underwritten by fairness, then the simple way to proceed would be to do that in conjunction with the States,’ he said.  

‘Another possibility would be to rely upon both the Corporations power and the External Affairs power of the Commonwealth. 

‘But doing that would require that our National legislative framework complies with or takes into account the ILO Conventions we have signed up for, something the Howard/Costello Government will not touch with a barge pole.’

Guarantee sought

Smith also launched a petition calling on the Howard/Costello Government to guarantee that no individual Australian will be worse off under the Government’s proposed changes to the Minimum Wage and the National Minimum Wage Case. 

The petition asks that the Government:

  1. guarantees that no individual Australian employee will be worse off as a result of the Government’s proposed changes to the minimum wage;

  2. allows the National Minimum Wage to continue to be set annually by the independent umpire, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Related 

States won't cop 'unfair' national workplace system - Labor

One workplace relations system ‘in national interest’ – ACCI

States preparing legal challenge to fight national IR system

 

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