WA IR report ‘a swing back to WorkChoices’: ACTU

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WA IR report ‘a swing back to WorkChoices’: ACTU

The WA Government has released a long-awaited report into the state’s industrial relations system that would block collective bargaining, allow for individual contracts and end unfair dismissal laws for small business.

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The WA Government has released a long-awaited report into the state’s industrial relations system that would block collective bargaining, allow for individual contracts and end unfair dismissal laws for small business.
 
The Amendola Report was commissioned in June 2009 and handed to the government on 30 October last year. The report was released by the government this week after State Parliament sittings ended for the year.
 
The government has not said which of its 193 recommendation it will accept.
 
The report, by Melbourne lawyer Steven Amendola, was commissioned by former treasurer Troy Buswell in June last year to examine industrial issues including unfair dismissal laws, union right of entry provisions, agreement making and the interaction of WA’s system with the Commonwealth system after the Rudd Government’s Fair Work Act replaced WorkChoices.
 
Amendola helped the Howard Government draft the WorkChoices laws and acted for former IR Ministers Tony Abbott and Peter Reith.
 
Worst fears confirmed
 
ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said the review confirmed the worst fears of unions that the WA Liberal Government would swing back to WorkChoices at the first opportunity.
 
He said unions would campaign to protect the rights of WA workers.
 
‘The review commissioned by the Barnett Government confirms what has always been suspected: that WorkChoices is in the Liberal Party’s blood.’
 
‘It is little wonder that the WA Government deliberately with-held the public release of this report during the federal election campaign, because it lifts the lid on the Liberal Party’s true agenda.’
 
‘The Amendola report recommends that workers in WA have no guaranteed right to collective bargaining, as is the case under the federal Fair Work laws. And where there is no collective agreement in place, it would give employers the power to make a worker sign an individual contract that dictates pay and conditions if they want a job.’
 
‘Workers in businesses of fewer than 20 employees could lose their job at an employer’s whim, with no legal remedy for unfair dismissal. And the rights to take industrial action or seek arbitration of a dispute would also be curtailed.’
 
Extreme IR agenda
 
‘Western Australia has been the state where the Liberals try out their extreme IR agenda first before spreading it nationally. In the 1990s, the Court Government gave WorkChoices a dry run with industrial relations changes that saw individual contracts introduced and minimum standards cut.’
 
‘History is repeating itself, and there is no doubt that the WA review reflects Liberal Party thinking on industrial relations.’
 
Opposition Leader Eric Ripper accused the government of ‘media management’ by holding the report back for release until late in the day and after Parliament had risen for the year.
 
‘Clearly, the Government doesn’t want any scrutiny of the Amendola review,’ he said.
 
Tinker around the edges
 
Chamber of Commerce and Industry manager of industrial relations policy Marcia Kuhne said despite admitting the State’s IR system was outdated and spending $850,000 on the report, the government was only prepared to ‘tinker around the edges’ of a ‘fundamentally flawed’ system.
 
She said small business wanted a single national system.
 
‘It has taken the Government 14 months to release this report and, now that it has, the Government’s response falls well short of what the WA business community needs,’ Ms Kuhne said.
 
UnionsWA secretary Simone McGurk said she was astounded the government had not formulated a response after sitting on the report for 14 months.
 
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