NSW IR referral followed ‘robust’ negotiations

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NSW IR referral followed ‘robust’ negotiations

The NSW Government’s decision to refer its IR powers to the Commonwealth followed ‘robust and intense’ negotiations, and legislation to give effect to the referral will be in State Parliament next week.

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The NSW Government’s decision to refer its IR powers to the Commonwealth followed ‘robust and intense’ negotiations, and legislation to give effect to the referral will be in State Parliament next week.
 
The Minister for Industrial Relations, John Hatzistergos, said New South Wales will be in the Fair Work Australia system when it is fully functional from 1January 2010.
 
As part of the deal with the Federal Government, the referral will include the the following arrangements:
  • Seven members of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission will be appointed to Fair Work Australia.
  • Fair Work Australia will be located in the Hunter and the Illawarra as well as Sydney.
  • The Fair Work Ombudsman and the NSW Office of Industrial Relations will work together to assist employees and employers transition to the national system.
 
Hatzistergos said the decision means that, from January 2010, the Commonwealth’s Fair Work Act 2009 will cover every employer and employee in the private sector in New South Wales.
 
500,000 private sector workers in new system
 
‘About a half a million workers in the private sector in NSW will come under the umbrella of the national IR system from next year,’ he said.
 
‘That means greater certainty, efficiency and fairness through one clear set of rules covering conditions of employment, enterprise agreements and unfair dismissal.’
 
Hatzistergos said employees of the state public service and local government will not move to the national IR system; however, those in the water and electricity sectors will.
 
All states except Western Australia have already referred their IR powers to the Commonwealth or are in the process of doing so.
 
Under the deals worked out by the Federal Government, any amendments to the Fair Work Australia Act will have to be approved by two-thirds of the states.
 
The Federal Opposition is opposing the extended national IR system, claiming the states are ‘unfit’ to participate in it.
 
The Australian Industry Group has also opposed the referral facilitation legislation because it gives too much power to the states.
 
‘Strike a deal’ urges AMMA
 
However, the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) has urged politicians of all political persuasions to sit down and ‘strike a deal’ on a final range of amendments needed to see the passage of legislation that would create a single national industrial relations scheme.
 
AMMA chief executive Steve Knott said employers had been waiting for nearly a decade to see the passage of legislation that would eliminate artificial barriers between the states, when it came to employment issues.
 
‘Australian workers are Australian workers,’ he said.
 
‘They do not see themselves as only having the capacity to work in just one state, and it is in both their interest as well as the national interest that this sensible and practical reform proceeds through the Senate.’
 
‘The time to strike a deal is now.’
 
Outstanding concerns
 
Knott said he understood there were some outstanding concerns about the Bill, which could be categorised as follows:
  • the need to see that the Fair Work laws were operating properly before imposing them on the states
  • the ability of a single state government to hold up any future changes to the legislation.
 
‘Surely it is the Senate — the State’s House — which is best able to resolve these issues and come to a sensible conclusion which is in the nation’s interests,’ he said.
 
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