New federal all-industry IR laws in lieu of building Bill

News

New federal all-industry IR laws in lieu of building Bill

The Federal Government will introduce new all-industry IR laws after the Government’s industry-specific building bill was rejected by the Democrats in the Senate last night.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

The Federal Government will introduce new all-industry IR laws after the Government’s industry-specific building bill was rejected by the Democrats in the Senate last night.

The Government is able to bring on the new Workplace Relations laws after the Democrats indicated that, while they were against the building bill, they were prepared to deal on the introduction of all-industry legislation.

The deal does not go as far as the Government’s building bill. However, the Government agreed to the deal as it includes new information gathering powers for the Building Industry Task Force.

The federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews said the inclusion of the new powers will enable the Taskforce to call witnesses, examine witnesses, and require the production of documents.

However, the Democrat information gathering proposal includes a sunset clause of three years.

In relation to all industries, the proposed legislative deal also trebles penalties under the Workplace Relations Act to (list) over $30,000 for a corporation and over $6,000 for an individual; disqualifies office holders convicted of a criminal offence and receiving a suspended sentence from holding office; provides whistleblower protection to employees of registered organisations; and allows secret ballots.

The Government hopes the legislation will pass the Senate with Democrat support this week.

The Democrats

The Democrats’ opposition to the building bill was made clear in the Senate report on the building bill tabled in Parliament last night.

While the Democrats supported the central position of the Cole building bill that greater regulation and enforcement of workplace relations law is needed, they were against industry-specific legislation.

They were also against a building industry watchdog, but would like to see a national workplace relations regulator.

They believed that non-compliance with industrial laws was not just a feature of the building industry, but agreed it ‘does need particular attention’, according to Democrat Senator Andrew Murray.

Non-compliance becomes a problem when enforcement of workplace relations laws is weak, and this is the case with the building industry, he said.

‘The lack of a well resourced active regulator with standard regulatory powers, plus inadequate penalties, is the prime cause of ineffective application and observance of existing law,’ he said.

’Better enforcement mechanisms and not new wide-ranging industrial laws are needed; this was reinforced by the Senate inquiry. 

Ai Group

Key manufacturing employer organisation AiG welcomed the proposed changes. But they don’t go far enough, according to AiG chief executive Heather Ridout.

Areas such as the misuse of industrial action for pattern bargaining, inappropriate coercion and cooling-off periods deserve further attention,’ she said.

‘In 2006, some 3000 construction industry agreements will come up for renewal and companies will be vulnerable without further legislative reform.’

For a copy of the Senate report on the building Bill go to the Australian Parliament House website.  

Related

Senate rejects industrial contempt laws

Federal penalties bill blocked

Building and construction Bill under Senate scrutiny until early 2004

Abbott lays down new laws for building and construction industry

 

Post details