Politicians need to rehumanise IR: Riordan

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Politicians need to rehumanise IR: Riordan

The latest federal IR system had failed its authors, according to a former presidential member of the federal Industrial Relations Commission, who also told a national IR conference they should remember that shortfalls in a jurisdiction were caused by the parliaments who passed the legislation.

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The latest federal IR system had failed its authors, according to a former presidential member of the federal Industrial Relations Commission, who also told a national IR conference they should remember that shortfalls in a jurisdiction were caused by the parliaments who passed the legislation.

 

Joe Riordan, a self-confessed 'unqualified supporter' of the process of conciliation, told delegates to the National IR Society's conference on the Gold Coast last weekend the Workplace Relations Act was inequitable, cost-burdensome, and had led to unnecessary strikes and lockouts.

He said while people had a right to engage in those industrial practices, 'we're in a very difficult state at this time'. 'All our industries are very vulnerable, all our jobs are very vulnerable - those who don't understand that don't understand economics,' he said.

He also had a serve for the terms used to describe the modern workforce, saying talk of deregulation of the labour market 'fails to recognise that the workforce consists of human persons who are entitled to be treated with dignity and proper respect'.

Rather than directing their 'rhetoric' to 'the personal satisfaction of themselves or the gratification of some aggressive personal ill feeling towards colleagues', Members of Parliament should use their power to enact laws to achieve peace and harmony in the workplace, he said.

'We need harmony, everyone working together, the end of provocation,' Riordan said, before having a go at the Government's new IR plans to woo small business (see 177/2001). 'Small business is dependent very largely on large business, so we can't just say let's put all our attention on small business,' he said. 'Look at what's happened with Ansett.'

He said a look 'through the annals of history' of industrial regulation in this country would not reveal too many cases where errors had occurred, although members of the commission were 'human persons with human frailty'. Nonetheless, he said compulsory arbitration - only after attempts at conciliation had failed - was preferable to massive confrontation.

'The resolution of disputes by reason, logic and equitable judgement is far superior to the imposition of the will of one party on the other by the use of economic force,' he said, touching on points made earlier in the conference by the President of the AIRC, Justice Geoffrey Giudice (see 233/2001).

Riordan advocated a simplified, less legalistic system, and said greater cooperation and coordination of activity between federal and state jurisdictions was 'very desirable'.

Finally, as chairman of the Workcover Authority of NSW, Riordan had much to say about workplace safety, saying there was 'absolutely no justification' for death in the workplace and no matter what any politician might say: 'I've not met one with the ability to restore life.'

'I assent without fear of contradiction that no-one should die in order to earn a living. No family should lose its principal breadwinner at work.'

 

 

 

 

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