No surprises in Government's IR policy

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No surprises in Government's IR policy

The Prime Minister has announced the Coalition's industrial relations policy in Brisbane, promising more of the path of deregulation the Government has trod for the past five and a half years, and emphasising choice and reward.

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The Prime Minister has announced the Coalition's industrial relations policy in Brisbane, promising more of the path of deregulation the Government has trod for the past five and a half years, and emphasising choice and reward.

In a speech which played heavily on the spectre of union domination and disruption if Labor was elected, John Howard said the policy recommitted the Coalition to workplace flexibility and stood in stark contrast to Labor's policy of IR 'rollback'.

The key points of the policy outlined today include commitments to:

  • The Government's employee entitlements safety net scheme announced last month in the wake of the Ansett collapse to fund and protect unpaid wages, annual leave, long service leave, pay in lieu of notice, and up to eight weeks' redundancy pay. Employee entitlements to be given priority over new debts owed to banks and other creditors;
  • Secret ballots before strike action;
  • Strengthening of trade practices laws against secondary boycotts;
  • New unfair dismissal laws;
  • Less employment 'red tape' for small business;
  • Greater scope to balance work and family responsibilities;
  • Expanded use of youth wages.

As the policy was not available on the Liberal Party website at time of publishing, further details are not forthcoming at this stage. The Liberal Party expects it to go up at some stage in the not-too-distant future.

Howard said that under Labor, real wages had dropped and unions had the power to control wages policy. He also said green-lighting strikes and economic boycotts would cost jobs, as would the abolition of youth wages.

The PM played heavily on the disruption he said would be caused by a Labor Government, stressing a Coalition Government, if re-elected, would not 'pander to union ideology' by abolishing either Australian Workplace Agreements or the Office of the Employment Advocate.

Howard said having 'coast to coast' Labor governments would threaten IR more than any other area and that 'businesses across Australia, large and small, would be dominated by union officials operating with impunity under acquiescent Labor governments'.

'In uncertain economic times, when our major trading partners are experiencing an economic downturn, we cannot afford to risk our jobs, our economic security and our living standards by slipping back into a highly regulated union-controlled industrial relations system,' he said.

'Labor promises a return to the past - one of industrial conflict and squandered opportunity. We represent the future - one of cooperative and flexible workplaces, in which Australians can balance the demands of work and family, and the benefits of steady economic growth are shared by all.'


 

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