Unions to demand IR changes from second-term Labor Govt

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Unions to demand IR changes from second-term Labor Govt

The Liberal Party may be pledging not to change the Fair Work legislation, but the union movement wants significant changes to the Act by a second-term Labor Government.

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The Liberal Party may be pledging not to change the Fair Work legislation, but the union movement wants significant changes to the Act by a second-term Labor Government.
 
Brian Boyd, secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, said in his website report that there was ‘unfinished business’ for unions relating to the Fair Work Act 2009.
 
‘A second term ALP government should be lobbied by the union movement for more improvements to the FW Act, as it contains to this day WorkChoices-type restrictions on rights at work,’ Boyd said.
 
‘Suite’ of amendments needed
 
‘Right of entry, full collective bargaining rights, what can be bargained about, how and when, are just some of the outstanding issues that breach ILO conventions. A suite of basic amendments to the legislation is required.’
 
Boyd said Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and IR spokesman Eric Abetz ‘cannot help themselves’ in sending signals to big business that ‘they will work to apply the current IR laws to the letter, with the aim to maximise employer control over employees bargaining rights’.
 
‘Abbott may insist he won’t touch the Fair Work Act, if he wins, for the next term of the Federal Parliament,’ Boyd said.
 
‘He says WorkChoices is “dead”, “buried” and “cremated” but does he protest, too much!?
 
‘Eric Abetz talks about “tweaking” the current legislation. The FW Act allows for “ministerial directions” and “changes via regulations” anyway. Abbott knows this and therefore can say “we will work within the legislation”.’
 
‘He knows that FW Act contains many clauses that were in the WorkChoices Act. The union movement knows it also, as over the last year or so many disputes have run foul of such clauses, never mind the odd ministerial direction.’
 
Collective rights
 
‘Abbott can use the FW Act to assist his employer allies by using for example the individual flexibility agreement provisions more vigorously, in order to undermine the partial re-introduction of collective rights.’
 
‘Gillard is right when she says Abbot dreams of bringing back the “fierce dog” called WorkChoices.’
 
‘Abbott’s claim he can work with Gillard’s FW Act shows there are I.E.D’s [improvised explosive devices] contained within the Gillard legislation. These elements continue to give comfort to the dark forces opposed to genuine collective bargaining and workers rights in general.’
 
Miners want changes, too
 
Meanwhile, the resources industry employers group, AMMA, also wants changes to the Fair Work Act.
 
Steve Knott, AMMA chief executive, said a recent survey of employers in the sector had raised significant concerns over the ability of employers to get Greenfield agreements off the ground for major projects under the new Fair Work regime.
 
‘At present the Fair Work Act does not provide any alternative for an employer to create Greenfield Agreements where unions are holding up new projects,’ Knott said.
 
‘Disturbingly our members are reporting an increase in the number of instances where unions are vetoing the agreements until they can extract significant concessions from employers, with little or no commitment towards increasing productivity or improving workplace practices.’
 
‘With up to two-thirds of the sector potentially moving into bargaining rounds over the coming months — the last thing the sector can afford at the moment is for agreement making processes to get bogged down,’ Knott said.
 
He will be raising his concerns with both Gillard and Abbot over the coming weeks.
 
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