AMMA has welcomed calls from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for labour market reform to assist the G20 nations in meeting their collective global growth target.

As reported in The Australian yesterday, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde named workplace change as an ‘urgent challenge’ for the world’s 20 biggest economies as they seek to add 1.8% to global growth over the next four years.

Responding to media enquiries about the resource industry’s position on the IMF’s statement, AMMA chief executive Steve Knott said ‘labour market reform will be absolutely critical to meeting the G20’s global growth target’.

The industry response in today’s press can be read here.

“Without a doubt, Australia’s workplace relations laws can and should provide a much more supportive framework for economic and employment growth. For this to happen, the system must reflect the modern 21st century economy and labour market we operate and work within,” Mr Knott said.

“What we can be doing right now is looking at supporting important reforms already before parliament such as the FW Amendment Bill 2014, the bill to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission and stronger regulation around registered organisations.

“Such reforms, if passed, would see a return to a more balanced and less disruptive right of entry rules for union officials, a more efficient and competitive process for approving new resource projects and a return to a strong cop on the beat for the building and construction sector.”

Following the passing of this legislation already before Parliament, Mr Knott said other reforms, including the introduction of a new IR appeals jurisdiction to reduce employer costs and ensure clear precedents are followed in decision making, are also important and should be supported..

“Business confidence and jobs growth is synonymous with employers having confidence in the public institutions that underpin Australia’s workplace system,” he said.

“An independent, separate IR appeals bench would help bring Australia’s workplace system up to global best practice standards. It would restore employer confidence in the Fair Work Commission following employer concerns over decision making and leadership restructuring in recent years.

“We are also starting to prepare the resource industry’s submission to the forthcoming Productivity Commission review, which offers a rare, historic opportunity to assess and reshape our workplace system to ensure it properly supports our nation’s economic and social aspirations.

“For too long our business community has been adversely impacted by the swinging pendulum of IR change. The PC review is an opportunity to get past the pendulum and seek long-term meaningful change that can survive shifting political cycles.”

The merits of a new appellate jurisdiction to sit above the Fair Work Commission was first flagged in the Coalition’s Policy to Improve the Fair Work laws document, released before the 2013 election.

AMMA’s advocacy for a proposed best practice IR appeals bench was last week supported by Australia’s peak business group the ACCI (Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry):

“ACCI, like many of our members, has been concerned about conflicting appeal decisions from the FWC relating to the same issues, because an appeal process that does not deliver consistency and certainty ends up hurting business,” ACCI chief executive Kate Carnell noted in a members communication last Friday (September 19).

“There is precedent for specialist appeals divisions both within Australia and internationally. Relevantly, there is precedent for specialist appeals divisions in industrial tribunals. ACCI believes we need a best practice appeals process that will deliver sound decisions and greater certainty and we should go for the best rather than accept the vagaries the current system delivers.”

AMMA’s comprehensive research paper into the new IR appeals bench matter can be viewed here.

For more information on the Productivity Commission Review process or any other workplace policy matter, contact [email protected].