Premiers’ call for Fair Work Act review angers Labor, unions

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Premiers’ call for Fair Work Act review angers Labor, unions

A push by the Liberal premiers of New South Wales and Victoria to have the Fair Work Act overhauled has been rejected by the NSW Labor Opposition and the state’s unions.

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A push by the Liberal premiers of New South Wales and Victoria to have the Fair Work Act overhauled has been rejected by the NSW Labor Opposition and the state’s unions.

This week NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell told Sky News that the Fair Work Act 2009 needed change, and that he believed Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott would support this if he wins the next federal election.

‘I think it should be part and parcel of the federal opposition’s argument about how we protect future productivity, future jobs and future opportunities in Australia,’ O’Farrell said.

He said he would raise the issue of productivity with Abbott.

Too important
 
Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu said the issue is ‘just too important to ignore.’

Baillieu concentrated on the construction industry where he said soaring costs caused by hardline building unions and industry inefficiencies had to be on the national agenda.

He told a Liberal Party conference the matter should be discussed at the news Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting and he favoured a Productivity Commission inquiry into construction costs.

Return to ‘dark ages’
 
NSW shadow minister for industrial relations Sophie Cotsis accused O’Farrell of wanting to return workers to the ‘dark ages’.

‘O’Farrell’s call for an overhaul of the Federal Fair Work Act is code for reintroducing individual contracts and cutting penalty rates,’ she said.

‘While most people shudder when they think of WorkChoices, Barry O’Farrell looks back with nostalgia. He is determined to ensure that both public and private sector workers in NSW have less protections.’

‘The Premier needs to clarify what overhaul of the Fair Work Act he has in mind — does he want the return of Australian Workplace Agreements? Does he support private sector employees being able to trade away rights such as overtime, penalty rates and leave loadings?’

Undermine rights
 
Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon said the NSW Government had undermined the rights and conditions of TAFE employees and local government workers, while also attempting to silence the political voice of working people through changes to the electoral funding laws.

‘The Premier's comments about the Fair Work Act on Sky News show his Government’s appetite to extend its attack on working people beyond the public sector and into the broader workforce,’ he said.

‘The Fair Work Act was a badly needed piece of legislation — it wound back WorkChoices, restoring fairness and dignity to our workplace.’

‘Yet the NSW Government is more interested in supporting the business lobby and its agenda of reintroducing individual contracts and winding back penalty rates.’
 
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