Labor has ruled out scrapping the strict test for approving enterprise agreements as part of reforms to kick-start the failing collective bargaining system.
In an article featured in the Australian Financial Review, Opposition industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke flagged on Sunday that Labor was considering backing changes to workplace rules to speed up bargaining after saying agreements were taking too long to approve.
Employers interpret the comments as a fresh look from Labor at the bargaining system, which they say has delayed agreements due to the rigid ‘‘better off overall test’’ requiring each employee to be better than the award minimum at all times.
Mr Burke said the country ‘‘needs industrial relations outcomes right now’’. ‘‘It needs wages growth and it needs workplace bargaining to get going again,’’ he said.
But he said ‘‘scrapping the better off overall test would not deliver wages growth. It is an important safeguard that protects the pay and conditions of workers.’’
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry workplace relations deputy director Tamsin Lawrence said ‘‘we are pleased the opposition has acknowledged there are flaws in our current bargaining rules’’. She said the rules are ‘‘overly stringent and increasingly absolutist’’ and suggested Labor simplify the requirement that agreements be ‘‘genuinely agreed’’.
‘‘The Fair Work Commission is currently forced into a fishing expedition when considering new agreements, rather than simply focusing on whether employees understand the nature of the agreement and if there was any duress or coercion involved,’’ she said.
Unions and employers have agreed the bargaining system is failing
It followed Mr Burke on Sunday saying Labor would this week attempt to disallow the Morrison government’s decision to fast-track cuts to pay and conditions in enterprise agreements, warning it is a “really dangerous change”.
“It flies in the face of the co-operation that the union movement has been showing the government during this period,” he said.
“The changes that could be made can be permanent changes to your pay and conditions. It’s a massive overreach from the government. They shouldn’t have done it.”
Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter made the temporary changes through regulation last month to allow for rapid responses to the coronavirus crisis and help businesses save jobs.
“I will engage directly with crossbench senators this week to stress the importance of giving businesses every reasonable assistance to survive through this increasingly difficult period, should the Senate consider any disallowance,” Mr Porter said on Sunday.
More trust in employers
Intentinos to do right thing and kep jobs throughout crisis
Not more regulaton
Minister for ir Christian porter temporary period is likely to be challenged throyggh disallowance motion
Amma was very supportive of the change… advocating for this change to reima but more importantly to remain to avoid uneceasary complexities and delats and the 7day notification from the