States can keep a public sector IR system, says Rudd

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States can keep a public sector IR system, says Rudd

The States are entitled to maintain a separate industrial relations system for their own public sector employees, Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has confirmed.

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The States are entitled to maintain a separate industrial relations system for their own public sector employees, Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has confirmed.

However Labor is claiming that the States are warming towards setting a 'harmonised' national system for the private sector, and the NSW Government has said it would work cooperatively towards such a system.

Labor's IR spokeswoman Julia Gillard said she to talk to a number of her State Labor colleagues who had said they are prepared to 'positively consider Labor's plan to get a uniform system for the private sector'.

'I had discussions with the West Australian Premier and he is positive on the plan to have a private sector system that has uniformity and we will keep talking to him about that.'

Co-operation and harmonisation

She said that uniformity may be achieved either by referring powers for private sector workers or through co-operation and harmonisation.

'But there is a will amongst the Labor States to make sure we get a system in the private sector that offers uniformity and that people who are getting on with the job of doing business, don't have to wait for a High Court case to tell them which industrial relations system applies to them,' Gillard said.

Gillard said there is 'not one State Labor leader who wants to give up workers to John Howard, because why would they? Why would they let any person in their State be sacrificed on the altar of John Howard's industrial relations laws if they can protect them?

'Their view about working with a Federal Labor Government is entirely different because they know a Federal Labor government will deliver an industrial relations system that goes forward with fairness and that is most certainly not what John Howard's system is doing.'

Huge impact on State budgets

Rudd said after his National Press Club speech yesterday, that State Governments are the largest employers across the country.

'Therefore it has a huge impact on their budgets and there is a legitimate argument just in terms of their own public finance management, that they should retain control over these systems,' he said. 'If States choose to retain control over Local Government employees because Local Government exists usually as an instrument of State legislation, then we would see that as a reasonable point as well.

'But when it comes to the private economy, we believe that in the modern economy, the 21st century, whether it's by referral or whether it's by cooperation, or harmonisation, increasingly your customer base, is right across the country and your operations are going to be dispersed across the country as well.'

NSW Government reaction

NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, John Della Bosca, said his State would work co-operatively with a Federal Labor Government to harmonise industrial relations laws in the cooperative outlined by Rudd.

'We support the Opposition leader's commitment to consult with States and Territories over industrial relations reform,' he said. 'The NSW Government supports Mr Rudd's proposal to cut red tape and provide fairness in the workplace through co-operative harmonisation between NSW and the Commonwealth. NSW believes there is great potential for harmonisation.'

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