National IR system may not cover public sector

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National IR system may not cover public sector

The Rudd Labor Government has begun to hint that its proposed national IR system will only apply to the private economy, with public sector workers looked after separately – presumably by State and Federal governments.

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The Rudd Labor Government has begun to hint that its proposed national IR system will only apply to the private economy, with public sector workers looked after separately – presumably by State and Federal governments.

And Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson supports Labor’s plan for a national IR system, but fears it could lead to ‘union control’.

The setting up of a national workplace relations system was Labor’s policy before the recent election and is planned to be part of the Fair Work Australia system that will be in operation from the beginning of 2010.

States can opt out

The NSW Government released a report by last week by law professor George Williams which recommended a national system which the States could opt out of, and in which they could either cede their IR powers to the Commonwealth or pass parallel legislation.

It also allows the State governments to specify exclusions from the national IR law, such as retaining public sector employees under State law.

Prime Minister Rudd reaffirmed his commitment to a national system over the long weekend, saying the business community had told him they want ‘a national system for the private economy’.

Public sector ‘handled elsewhere’

Rudd said he was committed to that but that ‘when it came to the public sector, that could be handled elsewhere’. ‘We actually take seriously what we said and we mean what we said and we intend to do that,’ he said.

Nelson said he strongly supported a national uniform system for workplace relations.

‘We were able to get close to 85% uniformity across Australia in the private employment sector when we were in government and this will be a real test as to whether Rudd is able to get the States to now fully cooperate,’ he said.

Bloody minded

‘There was bloody-mindedness on the part of the States that were driven by the unions when the Howard government was in office, but we would be concerned to make sure that whatever single, national system we have, that it doesn’t make it easier for the unions to control Australia.

‘One of the biggest threats to inflation in Australia at the moment is a wages explosion driven by union boss control of the Australian Government.

Role of unions

‘And one of the things I noticed, that when Rudd released his five point plan to attack inflation in Perth earlier in the week, the one thing he didn’t talk about was workplace relations and the role of unions in that.

‘The thing that will most threaten us is if the union bosses get control of Rudd and Julia Gillard in driving wages increases right across the board that are out-of-step with productivity and individual workplaces,’ Nelson concluded.

Related

National IR system by 2010 – but states can opt out: report

States back national IR report, but business rejects it

 

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