Varied IR bargaining options a plus: Vic

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Varied IR bargaining options a plus: Vic

Proposed Federal Government IR reforms will jeopardise the economic benefits of existing workplace bargaining diversity, according to a recent Victorian Government Senate Committee submission.

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Proposed Federal Government IR reforms will jeopardise the economic benefits of existing workplace bargaining diversity, according to a recent Victorian Government Senate Committee submission.

The Victorian Government sees reforms that push only individual bargaining as detrimental.
It rejects Federal Government claims that the industrial relations system needs an overhaul to improve employment, productivity and investment; and feels the Federal Government’s aims have the potential to disadvantage a number of workers.

Not broken, so don’t fix it

‘Reducing the choice of instruments available contradicts the objective to encourage workplaces to adopt forms of industrial coverage that best reflect their business needs,’ the Victorian Government claimed in its submission to the Standing Committee Inquiry into Workplace Agreements.

It also believes employers are happy with existing arrangements. And says that, considering the various industrial instruments on offer, almost two thirds of Victorian employers are satisfied that their chosen instrument met their business needs most or some of the time.

Significantly, businesses - in particular small and regional business - using the more comprehensive arrangements, such as awards and EBAs, are highly satisfied.

But on the other hand, workplaces without comprehensive arrangements are most dissatisfied with how their industrial instrument helps them with business performance.

Still hiring

Interestingly, when it came to hiring staff, having a number of industrial instruments to choose from is not seen as a negative.

‘There was no evidence to suggest that the choice of instrument deterred workplaces from recruiting staff,’ the submission states.

‘Indeed, workplaces with a mix of industrial instruments were far more likely to increase staff. The experience of Victorian workplaces under the operation of a highly deregulated system (Schedule 1A) is also important to consider.

‘In terms of employment and profit growth there was no significant difference between growth rates in Victoria or of the other States and Commonwealth.’

The submission warns that reducing choice would be detrimental. ‘The extent of the use of multiple forms of industrial instruments at the workplace and the diversity of arrangements by workplace characteristics strongly suggest that it is misguided to suggest that individual negotiation and bargaining will suit all workplaces.’

Interestingly, almost a third of Victorian workplaces used a combination of industrial instruments to suit their operations. ‘This diversity in instrument coverage is significant as it indicates that no specific type of agreement will suit all workplaces,’ the submission added.

What agreements are where

As at 2002, 43%of Victorian workplaces were covered by awards, while EBAs accounted for 9% and own arrangements (anything other than EBAs, AWAs and federal awards, such as unregistered collective agreements, common law contracts and previous schedule 1A arrangements) accounted for 23% of the workforce.

The types of workers more likely to have their pay determined by employers were largely casual, part-time, female and hospitality based and more likely to be low paid.

The workers that faired best were on awards and EBAs with paid overtime, RDOs, penalty rates and paid maternity and paternity leave.

Workers on individual arrangements were more likely to work long hours and have fewer entitlements.

For a copy of the submission go here.

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