New IR system needed to fight financial crisis: ACTU

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New IR system needed to fight financial crisis: ACTU

The global financial turmoil has increased the urgency for a fair and balanced industrial relations system - with collective bargaining at its centre, ACTU president Sharan Burrow has told the National Press Club in Canberra.

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The global financial turmoil has increased the urgency for a fair and balanced industrial relations system - with collective bargaining at its centre, ACTU president Sharan Burrow has told the National Press Club in Canberra.

Burrow said working people would not be immune to the crisis on global financial markets.

Collective bargaining

She said economic uncertainty added extra imperative to restore collective bargaining rights for all Australians under the Rudd Government’s planned new industrial relations system.

‘The current global financial turmoil is a reminder for working Australians of their own exposure to a potential downturn that could affect their livelihoods,’ Burrow said.

‘It adds urgency to their desire for a balanced and fairer industrial relations system that delivers better job security and a fairer share of the nation’s wealth.'

‘Business and the economy will also benefit from new IR laws that put collective bargaining at the centre of workplace relations.’

Financial fragility

Burrow said the legacy of the HowardCostello Government is a profound financial fragility among working families, with household debt at an unsustainable and dangerous 156% of GDP.

She said a fair and comprehensive system of collective bargaining would:

  • protect incomes and jobs

  • grow workforce skills

  • drive productivity

  • enhance energy efficiency measures to tackle climate change

  • deliver increased participation through measures that assist with the balance of work and care for parents and older workers.

But Burrow warned there were still gaps in the Government’s industrial relations plan, and unions would press the Government to close them before the legislation was finalised.

Must get it right

‘Collective bargaining, good-faith collective bargaining with a strong independent umpire, will turn WorkChoices on its head,’ she said. ‘But we must get the new system right.’

Burrow called for urgent moves to increase regulation of the financial sector, including curbs on lending practices that push debt onto vulnerable consumers and greater protection for homebuyers at risk of default.


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