SA to hand IR powers to Federal Government

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SA to hand IR powers to Federal Government

South Australia will today agree to hand over its industrial relations powers to the Federal Government, but will keep control of public sector and local government employees for the time being.

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South Australia will today agree to hand over its industrial relations powers to the Federal Government, but will keep control of public sector and local government employees for the time being.
 
SA will join Victoria in having its private sector employees covered by federal IR laws, and Tasmania is likely to follow its example in the short term.
 
The move was welcomed by Federal IR Minister Julia Gillard.
 
Closer to national system
 
‘Today, we are another step closer to a seamless national economy,’ she said. ‘The government is working co-operatively with all state governments to achieve this vital reform, and welcomes this announcement from South Australia today.’
 
SA IR Minister Paul Caica said the hand over of IR powers would benefit both workers and businesses.
 
‘They'll be able to access modern awards, simpler nationally consistent wages,’ he said.
 
Better protection
 
‘It also has better and clearer protections for workers, while simultaneously providing employers with a national system that will result in a slashing of red tape, as well as simplifying and streamlining compliance measures.’
 
Caica said New South Wales and Queensland should follow suit.
 
‘We certainly believe that a national system will work best if all states do participate in a national system, but again that's a decision for individual states to make just as we've made a decision here in South Australia to be a full partner in this process, in this system,’ he said.
 
However Queensland and NSW have so far resisted the blandishments of IR Minister Julia Gillard to become part of her desired national IR system.
 
NSW unlikely
 
NSW is unlikely to act before the next State election, due in March 2011, because it already has enough problems with the union movement, having failed in a bid to privatise the electricity system.
 
Queensland has just had an election and Premier Anna Bligh has announced an extensive range of privatisations, including ports and State forests, which has been opposed by sections of the union movement.
 
In both Qld and NSW elements of the government would oppose handing over the IR powers, but negotiations with the Federal Government are continuing.
 
WA, the only State Liberal government, is definitely not handing over its IR powers in the short term.
 
WA IR review
 
The WA Government has announced an extensive review of its State IR system, and there will certainly be no handover before that is completed.
 
However there is potential for a handover of some of the state’s IR powers as the review covers the structure and operation of the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission and consideration of the Federal Government’s Fair Work Act 2009, with a focus on which elements should form part of the State industrial relations system, and potential areas for harmonisation of State and Federal industrial relations systems.
 
The SA move has been approved by the head union body in the state.
 
Arbitration process
 
‘It's exactly what we asked for,’ said SA Unions secretary Janet Giles. ‘In the public sector, it's very useful to have an arbitration process.
 
‘Under the State law we've still got quite strong arbitration powers, and the federal act doesn't have strong arbitration powers.’
 
Peter Vaughan, chief executive of Business SA, said he hoped the national system would be extended to the public sector in the future.
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