New IR laws have ‘serious deficits and too much WorkChoices’

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New IR laws have ‘serious deficits and too much WorkChoices’

A former judge of the AIRC, Paul Munro, has warned that the Labor Government’s proposed new IR system has ‘serious deficits’ and retains too much of WorkChoices.

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A former judge of the AIRC, Paul Munro, has warned that the Labor Government’s proposed new IR system has ‘serious deficits’ and retains too much of WorkChoices.

Munro was peaking at the launch of a new workplace relations magazine, The Debate, which is published by the Australian Institute of Employment Rights (AIER).

He said that while the ALP’s Forward with Fairness program has brought welcome and prompt relief against some elements of WorkChoices ‘too many elements of WorkChoices are not in the remainder bin of history but are retained’.

Won’t restore balance

He said that if elements of WorkChoices are changed ‘in the manner proposed, the changes will be “mild” and not sufficient to restore protective balance in workplaces’.

Munro outlined major deficiencies in the forthcoming Fair Work Australia legislation as outlined in the associated fact sheets released earlier this month by IR Minister Julia Gillard.

Major criticisms

His major criticisms are:

  • The proposed Strong and Simple Safety Net is too rigidly strung from the populist polls of direct Parliamentary and Executive legislation and regulation, and has big holes in it.

  • Renewed protection of security of employment is delayed, tenuously available and falls short of the fairness standard in important respects.

  • An over-prescriptive legislative regime will circumscribe collective agreement-making and bargaining to a degree inconsistent with international standards and maintenance of a fair balance in workplaces.

  • Freedom to associate for collective bargaining purposes including the fostering of an employee 'voice' in workplaces is almost invisible in the Safety Net standards and modern awards.

  • By retaining direct parliamentary determination of National Employment Standards, and by effectively abolishing workers rights to arbitration by State and Federal tribunals, Forward with Fairness undermines the value the electorate demonstrably attaches to recognising, respecting and maintaining the role of an independent industrial umpire.

  • The AIRC is to be abolished but not until it has completed the task of award modernisation. It is objectionable to keep in occupational limbo the about to be out-of-officeholders responsible for dealing independently with the merits of governmental views with which they are being belaboured. Such conduct by the Government is administratively unethical and a rort that should not be allowed pass without criticism and censure.

‘Hot air’

In an article in the magazine, Professor Ron McCallum says there should be some capacity for arbitration in the negotiation of collective agreements.

‘Without a meaningful remedy, in my judgement any legal exhortations to bargaining in good faith will amount to little more than hot air,' he wrote.


Related

Gillard confirms IR course

Parties can play political football with work safety net

Govt praised for 'keeping most of WorkChoices'
 

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