Status quo good for workers and business, WA employers claim

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Status quo good for workers and business, WA employers claim

Labor’s IR policies will increase regulation and costs to business and reduce the take home pay of thousands of workers, a new WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry report says.

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Labor’s IR policies will increase regulation and costs to business and reduce the take home pay of thousands of workers, a new WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry report says.

The report, which examines the effects the ALP’s proposed IR laws will have on WA business, says there will be a reduction in flexibility in employing staff, business efficiency will be compromised and the right to strike will be extended.

It also warns unions could ‘regain the whip hand’ over the setting of wages and employment conditions in non-union businesses. CCI believes that, given the low level of union membership in Australia, that would be ‘neither fair nor realistic’.

The report says individual contracts are an ‘important bargaining option’ and are widely used, also adding the policy was released without the ALP conducting an economic impact analysis.

Current system successful

Releasing the report, manager of CCI Workplace Relations Policy, Marcia Kuhne, said the success of the current system is demonstrated by the latest figures which show nearly one in four West Australians have signed individual contracts.

‘Reform of the industrial relations system has been beneficial to both employers and their staff by increasing productivity and competitiveness on the one hand; and higher real wages and better employment conditions on the other,’ she said. 

‘The current system has injected much needed flexibility into the workplace by giving workers the choice to trade their penalty rates, leave loadings and other benefits for a greater take home pay packet.

‘It’s one of many benefits that would no longer be available to workers if the ALP was to reintroduce a system of collective bargaining.’

High wages

Kuhne said workers on individual contracts receive on average wages $460.90 higher than those offered under awards and earn $58.80 more than those employed on common law contracts.

'The benefits enjoyed by thousands of WA workers could be at risk along with the number of employment opportunities available to them if individual contracts were removed,’ she warned. 

‘Returning to a highly regulated and union dominated industrial relations system would be regressive as employers would no longer have the flexibility and certainty to directly negotiate wages and conditions with their staff in a way that is mutually beneficial.’

She said the argument in support of the current laws is ‘compelling’ because they’ve delivered substantial improvements to productivity, wages and business competitiveness while reducing industrial disputation and red tape’.

Workers sign up

Over the past 15 months a new record has been set in the number of workers signing AWAs. 101,627 agreements lodged with the Office of the Employment Advocate since March 2006, representing 22% of the state’s workforce.

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