Resources group blasts Fair Work Commission


Resources group blasts Fair Work Commission

A peak industry employer group has unleashed a scathing attack on the Fair Work Commission, accusing it of 'infighting', poor decisions and failing to support the interests of workers and bosses.


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Steve Knott, CEO of the resource industry employer group AMMA, has written a scathing 38-page condemnation of the Fair Work Commission to the Minister for Employment, Michaelia Cash.

Knott criticised the FWC as being politically driven and full of “infighting”. He argued that the FWC is failing to support the interests of employers and employees; is operating outside of long-standing conventions; issuing decisions at odds with long-standing industrial principles and is expanding its remit.

He also argued that the Fair Work Act is causing “serious problems” for business and that the situation has been “deteriorating”. 

Knott then took issue with a variety of aspects of the system, querying:
  • why employers can’t dismiss employees for serious misconduct without fear the employees will win their job back
  • why employees need to be told it is unacceptable to download porn onto work equipment
  • why companies should be exposed for up to six years to “expensive unfounded claims”. 
He also took issue with trade union rights to “insist on meeting with workers in potentially dangerous and hard to access locations” and demanded to know why employees cannot “eat their lunch in peace” without being “badgered” by unionists.

Knott also criticised the fact that a union can “interfere” with the approval of an industrial agreement that had already been made between an employer and employees; that some industrial agreements are approved by FWC members and not others; that new business owners cannot employ people on one set of terms and conditions without being affected by the terms and conditions of a different era.

Decisive action needed

And why, he demanded, “is it so easy for unions to inflict costly and damaging strike action on businesses, or threaten such action, with the full support of our WR laws?

“If the government does not take decisive action immediately in the above areas, businesses will find it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to navigate the economic headwinds coming their way. This would have very real consequences for employment in Australia and for the health of our economy, which has the potential to negatively impact on all Australians,” Knott declared.

He urged the government to “immediately” review the structure of the FWC and, if necessary, ensure that appointments have “substantial business backgrounds”. 

In relation to unfair dismissal, he argued for a reduction of a six-year time limit on individuals to bring adverse action claims and have it replaced with a 21-day limit. He also argued that if there was a valid reason to dismiss an employee, “that is the end of the matter”. 

WorkplaceInfo contacted the Fair Work Commission for a response but it declined to comment. 
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