New IR laws no Easter present for workers

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New IR laws no Easter present for workers

The Federal Government’s interim IR legislation will be passed before Easter, but will not be in operation until afterwards.

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The Federal Government’s interim IR legislation will be passed before Easter, but will not be in operation until afterwards.

The legislation, debate on which will continue in the House of Representatives on Thursday, will not be voted on in the Upper House before a Senate inquiry into the Bill reports on 17 March.

Federal IR Minister Julia Gillard told ABC Radio today that the law would be proclaimed as soon as humanly possible.

‘Obviously we want to get it through before Easter.’ Gillard said. ‘We will therefore be trying to get the Bill operational as soon after Easter as possible.'

‘On and from that date, it will not be possible to make new Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) in this country.'

‘Australian Workplace Agreements that are on foot at that time will continue ... till their new nominal expiry date and then people can make decisions about replacing them.’

Won’t continue indefinitely

Gillard denied claims by the Opposition that Labor would allow AWAs to continue indefinitely.

On the ABC Insiders program on Sunday (9 March) Opposition IR spokeswoman Julie Bishop claimed Labor are not getting rid of AWAs.

‘On the question of AWAs, let's explode a myth right here on this program, you heard it first on Insiders - Labor are not getting rid of AWAs,’ Bishop said.

‘They’re not getting rid of Australian Workplace Agreements. Julia Gillard admitted this week that AWAs will continue indefinitely, if the employee and the employer are happy with them.'

‘So the charade about abolishing AWAs has now been exposed.'

‘And if they were so bad, why is she introducing a new one, this Individual Transition Agreement, which will also continue indefinitely if the employee and the employer agree?’

Gillard said this morning that Bishop’s claim was ‘untrue’.

Agreement persists

‘Standard industrial relations law provides that when you make an agreement you have to have an expiry date,’ she said.

‘If the expiry date comes and goes and you don’t do anything, then agreement persists until you do something.'

‘That is obviously part of our industrial relations law to stop people falling off the edge of agreement into an abyss. That has been standard industrial relations law for years and years and years.’

Gillard said a worker could terminate an AWA before its expiry on agreement with their employer.

Real concerns

Bishop told Insider the Opposition had ‘real concerns in this Bill’.

‘For example, they’ve got ten minimum national employment standards, seven of them relate to how much time you can take off work - none of them relate to productivity.'

‘And so there’s concern that these employment standards will in fact increase the cost of employing people, and that inevitably leads to unemployment.’

Interviewer: ‘So if you think it’s going to damage the economy, why support it? Why don’t you oppose it?'

Bishop: ‘We’re not supporting it.'

Interviewer: ‘Well why not oppose it?'

Bishop: ’Because we will be holding them to account. This is the transition Bill that they said they took to the last election and said that they would put into the House, and our job is to hold them to account for the consequences of that Bill.’


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