Qld Government acts on industrial relations

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Qld Government acts on industrial relations

Queensland restores pre-Newman Government IR laws and moves to reinstate public holiday dates.

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Queensland restores pre-Newman Government IR laws and moves to reinstate public holiday dates.

Queensland restores pre-Newman Government IR laws


The Queensland Government has rolled back a number of changes to government employees’ working conditions made by the former Newman Liberal National Government. 

The Industrial Relations (Restoring Fairness) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill was passed by the Queensland Parliament late on 4 June, the last sitting day before Parliament went into its winter recess. The Bill had been introduced in early May, before going straight to the Finance and Administration Committee which was tabled on 1 June. (The Committee recommended several amendments to the Bill, see below.)

Main changes 

The legislation reverses the changes made to public servants’ work conditions which were made by the former Newman Government and removes the restrictions on modern awards and their ability to contain provisions relating to contracting; employment security; policy incorporation; union encouragement; private practice; and resource allocation. It reverses restrictions on termination, change and redundancy (TCR) provisions and provisions about giving out personal employee information. Unions will now be able “to freely organise and access members to represent and protect their industrial interests”. Notice requirements for union right of entry to workplaces have also been reversed.

The legislation removes the requirement for the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) to give “special consideration to the financial position and fiscal strategy of the state government, a relevant public sector entity or the employer” when making wage decisions. It also reverses the ability of parties to be legally represented before the QIRC without the consent of the other party, restoring it, according to Minister Pitt, to a “layperson’s tribunal”.

Legislation which is reversed by the Industrial Relations (Restoring Fairness) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill includes:
  • Public Service and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2012
  • Industrial Relations (Transparency and Accountability of Industrial Organisations) and Other Acts Amendment Act 2013
  • Industrial Relations (Fair Work Harmonisation No. 2) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013

Amendments

Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Curtis Pitt, moved a number of amendments to the Bill, repealing provisions that had mandated individual employment contracts for senior medical officers in the state health system and which had precluded them from award coverage, collective bargaining and access to unfair dismissal protections. He also moved an additional minor amendment, in line with the Finance and Administration Committee’s recommendations to clarify that redundancy provisions superior to the QES can be included in a modern industrial instrument and for the operation of a certified agreement. 

The Committee also recommended that the legislation be amended to require the QIRC develop a standard dispute resolution clause. However, the legislation is actually removing this requirement and the government considers the QIRC already has a “broad ambit” in what it can include in such a clause, including whether to prepare a model clause if it should decide to do so.

Katter’s Australian Party MPs, Rob Katter and Shane Knuth, and independent MP, Billy Gordon, voted with the Government to pass the legislation. 

For more information:

Qld moves to reinstate public holiday dates 


The Palaszczuk Gvernment has introduced legislation to restore the date of the Labour Day public holiday in Queensland to its original date of the first Monday in May, as well as moving the Queen’s Birthday holiday back to the first Monday in October.

The Holidays and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 was introduced to honour the Labor Government’s pre-election promises and, if passed, will see the dates of these public holidays change for the third time in five years. The change would not occur until 2016 in order to give employers and the general community an opportunity to alter any arrangements already made under the current dates.

The Bill’s Explanatory Notes state Labour Day will be moved from the first Monday in October to the first Monday in May, and the Queen’s Birthday holiday will be moved from the second Monday in June to the first Monday in October. 

The Government says it is making the change in response to community support to observe Labour Day on the first Monday in May, as it has been observed since 1891. It also claims community support for moving the Queen’s Birthday holiday to the second half of the year. 
 
Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Curtis Pitt introduced the Bill, which was referred to a House Committee on 3 June.
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