Labor to offer IR safety net with fewer holes

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Labor to offer IR safety net with fewer holes

The safety net under Labor's industrial relations system will be an expanded set of legislated minimum standards and 'updated, simplified awards,' Opposition IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, has stated.

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The safety net under Labor's industrial relations system will be an expanded set of legislated minimum standards and 'updated, simplified awards,' Opposition IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, has stated.

Addressing the Australian Workplace Relations Summit in Sydney, Gillard declined to nominate how many new minimum standards there would be in addition to the current five minimum conditions under WorkChoices.

However she said Labor would 'do the task the Howard Government has so far found too hard' — create a new award system.

Gillard said that in the last year Labor has outlined a number of key pillars of its industrial relations policy — abolishing AWAs, encouraging collective bargaining and fair bargaining, developing balanced unfair dismissal arrangements and policies to support Australian working families.

Collective enterprise bargaining the key

'The key to Labor's industrial relations system will be collective enterprise bargaining,' she said. 'Experience both in Australia and overseas has shown collective enterprise bargaining can achieve higher productivity and wage outcomes than systems based on individual contracts.'

Gillard said Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, calls this a 'one size fits all approach'.

Flexibility across the workplace

'But enterprise bargaining recognises workplaces are different,' she said. 'And let me assure you that individual reward and workplace flexibility are also part of Labor's approach.

'Why is it necessary for an employer who wants flexibility in rostering or pay to replicate the same clause in every individual contract they offer their employees?

'Isn't it logical that flexibilities which apply across the workplace and workforce are best dealt with in the one agreement for the workforce — negotiated and bargained at the enterprise level?'

Gillard said Labor has also been criticised for suggesting that common law agreements are a viable option to provide flexibility where employers and employees want individual arrangements, but pointed out that such arrangements already cover more than 31% of all employment arrangements in Australian workplaces.

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