Miners demand to Govt: ‘Give us the right to hire scabs’

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Miners demand to Govt: ‘Give us the right to hire scabs’

The Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) wants the right to hire scabs during industrial disputes, more restriction on union right of entry, and union involvement in agreements only when employees give written approval.

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The Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) wants the right to hire scabs during industrial disputes, more restriction on union right of entry, and union involvement in agreements only when employees give written approval.
 
In its submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Fair Work Australia Bill, AMMA said the legislation should ensure resources sector companies can maintain production and supply during industrial disputes.
 
To do this, it should ‘allow companies to continue to operate by specifically excluding the engagement of alternative labour from the definition of capricious or unfair conduct’.
 
Capricious or unfair conduct
 
AMMA warned that employers could face difficulties in hiring strike breakers during industrial action because this could be seen as 'capricious or unfair conduct' under the good faith bargaining provisions.
 
‘The ability to engage replacement labour is particularly important in light of the Fair Work Bill’s removal of an employer’s right to take pre-emptive action by locking out employees,’ the submission says.
 
‘Employers cannot take pre-emptive action against employees yet employees can control the time at which action is taken to inflict maximum harm on the employer.'
 
‘A limitation on the ability to engage replacement labour was not foreshadowed in government policy.’
 
Culture ‘transformed’
 
It said that over the past two decades the Australian resources sector has transformed its workplaces from a culture of industrial disputation and division to one of direct employee engagement.
 
AMMA said these changes have increased productivity and reduced industrial disputation to the lowest levels on record, with the sector forecast to contribute $159 billion in minerals and energy exports in 2008–2009.
 
The AMMA director of workplace policy, Chris Platt, said that retaining this culture would become very difficult if the Senate passed the Fair Work Bill in its current form.
 
Counter union claims
 
‘The time for the Senate to act is now, while there is still some opportunity to insist on amendments that address the Bill’s proposed roll-back in terms of flexibility for the sector and to ensure there are appropriate mechanisms and controls in the new laws to counteract damaging union claims and conduct under the new bargaining framework’, Platt said.
 
‘We are already witnessing defiant unions ignoring sensible calls from the Deputy Prime Minister to exercise wage restraint in the interests of protecting jobs in this turbulent economic time. (The CFMEU has launched a campaign for pay rises of up to 33% for power plant workers at Alcoa’s WA operations.)'
 
Unsustainable wage increases
 
‘Yet the Government’s Fair Work Bill, if passed by the Senate in its current form, will provide the union movement with all the tools it needs to demand and achieve unsustainable wage increases at the expense of Australian jobs and future economic stability.’
 
AMMA has suggested more than thirty substantial amendments to the Fair Work Bill in its submission to the Senate, including:  
Remove automatic access to non-member records
 
Protect privacy of all employees by limiting union access to employee records to circumstances where it has the written consent of the affected employee (union or non-union member) or an order of Fair Work Australia providing authority to access particular employee records.
 
Prevent automatic (default) union representation without express written approval 
 
Remove the union default bargaining rule and only allow union representation where employees have expressly requested and provided written approval.
 
Ensure that a bargaining representative can only be covered by an agreement where a genuine majority of employees vote for that particular representative (union) to be covered by the agreement.
 
Provide certainty for billion dollar resources sector Greenfield projects
 
Prevent rogue unions from putting at risk billion dollar resources projects by amending or clarifying proposed notification and agreement requirements under the Fair Work Bill to allow employers to enter into Greenfield agreements with one or more (not necessarily all) eligible unions.
 
No Means ‘No’
 
Ensure good faith bargaining orders cannot be imposed on employers who exercise their rights to not make concessions or agree to unrealistic terms to be contained in an agreement.
 
Ensure resources sector companies can maintain production and supply
 
Allow companies to continue to operate by specifically excluding the engagement of alternative labour from the definition of capricious or unfair conduct.
 
Retain prior levels of industry flexibility in hours of work, rostering and leave
 
Ensure workplaces with remote rostering requirements can continue to effectively operate FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) and Norwegian rosters (3 weeks on, 3 weeks off, and 3 weeks on, 6 weeks off) by restoring the 52-week average rostering period and allowing 12-hour ordinary shifts to continue.
 
Allow resources sector employees to cash out annual leave by agreement.
 
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