New laws go back to ‘master–servant’ view of IR


New laws go back to ‘master–servant’ view of IR

The Federal Government is perpetuating the ‘master–servant’ relationship between employers and employees with its new IR laws, which a major employer body leader says is no longer relevant to Australia.


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The Federal Government is perpetuating the ‘master–servant’ relationship between employers and employees with its new IR laws, which a major employer body leader says is no longer relevant to Australia.
Richard Evans, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), said in an on-line article that the Fair Work Bill reduces an employer’s right to manage a workforce ‘fairly and with privacy’.
Writing for The Briefing, an online magazine for entrepreneurs and SMEs, he said the Bill was ‘payback time’ for the unions which helped the Labor Government come to power.
‘The inconvenient truth of work is that one doesn’t have a job unless our employer is successful,’ Evans said.
‘Yet it seems this concept is missed within the government’s Fair Work Australia legislation currently under review in the Senate.'
Work ‘created by employers’
‘This bill is based upon the concept that employees have rights (which they clearly do, but only when work is offered) but the bill fails to recognise the concept that work is created by an employer, and employee rights are reduced in order for employers to manage their investment.'
‘Under new workplace law, the Government is telling the risk-taking employer: “We don’t trust you to treat your employees well and we shall have our union mates check on you whenever they like”.’
Evans said the assumption [IR Minister Julia Gillard] and the labour movement make is Australia still has mass employment workplaces with master–servant mentalities where ‘management tries to wring every last piece of respect and effort from a worker’.
‘In reality, mass employers disappeared as industries were exported overseas,’ he said.
Most are ‘small’ businesses
‘The clear majority of workplaces in Australia are small or micro businesses and can’t be successful under a master–servant employment arrangement.'
‘It is a false premise to suggest employers mistreat their most important assets. This shows scant respect for the engine room of the economy being small business.’
Evans said that when [former Prime Minister] John Howard introduced workplace agreements during his first term, employees were for the first time able to negotiate their own work arrangements.
‘During that time Australia had significant growth in new business start-ups, which in turn led to increased employment opportunities,’ he said.
‘Employers create jobs — not governments or unions. During this time, unions began to become irrelevant and union membership halved because the days of confrontation were long exported, along with the industries and jobs sick of the restriction placed upon employers to manage their investment.’
Corrupt ‘go away money’
Evans said the Howard Government won four elections promising to disband the corrupt 'go away money' regime (more commonly called unfair dismissal), which is simply unaffordable for a small business.
To prevent being exposed to unfair dismissal claims by serial claimants, small business employers stopped creating work opportunities and casualised their work force.
‘Unfair dismissal and the subsequent work force casualisation diminished the security of employment for workers,’ he said.
However Evans said WorkChoices threatened people’s basic sense of job security — a sense of security ignored by the Howard Government.
‘This fear allowed the unions to once again have a purpose and voice, which ultimately led to Howard’s downfall,’ he said.
Propaganda campaign
‘The most fundamentally flawed propaganda campaign was washed over the community during the last few years creating a belief we are back in the master–servant era and the words “workplace agreement” became the words of political hate.'
‘Nothing could have been further from the truth. But the union movement saw the opportunity — as Howard over extended his power — to reclaim their own slab of power.’
Evans said the Fair Work Bill takes Australia back to pre-Keating.
‘It takes us back to where unions have right of entry to breach privacy and freedom of association laws; it takes us back to confrontation; it takes us back to pattern bargaining and other revenue raises for the union movement … but most importantly it takes us back to unemployment,’ he said.
Evans said that as union power increases, so do employer costs, compliance and worry.
However he said the Senate can ‘provide a balance of fairness to the legislation’.
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