Thursday 22nd November 2007
A clear choice on industrial relations
The Liberal government has introduced radical and harsh industrial relations laws, designed to give employers greater freedom to unilaterally set wages and conditions. The laws also make the traditional job of unions to collectively bargain with employers very difficult.
The government has stripped back the rights of workers and their unions to their lowest level in more than a century. Employers in most industries can now refuse to bargain in good faith – and there is little workers can legally do about it.
Key features of the Liberal’s industrial relations policy
Labor’s IR alternative
Labor’s industrial relations policy promises to restore the fundamentals of a fair system ripped up by the Howard government. The right to collectively bargain, a decent safety net of 10 employment standards plus 10 awards provisions and a new body, Fair Work
Australia, which will restore the role of the independent umpire, underpin Labor’s new industrial relations policy.
Key features of the ALP industrial relations policy
‘Fairness test’ – new name, same old laws
The Howard government dropped the name ‘WorkChoices’ but has kept the same old unfair IR laws. The introduction of the ‘fairness test’ still fails to protect workers. Around 2.5 million workers are not even covered by the new ‘fairness test’ and receive no protection.
The ‘fairness test’ does not guarantee workers get full financial compensation for the loss of pay and conditions under Howard’s IR laws, and only certain conditions are covered by the ‘fairness test’. Redundancy pay and a say on rosters are two conditions that are ignored by this so-called ‘fair’ test.
AWAs are also only checked after they start to apply, which means employees can lose conditions before they undergo the ‘fairness test’. In the pre-WorkChoices‘no disadvantage test’, workers’ agreements were tested before they were applied, to ensure people were not disadvantaged.
The new ‘fairness test’ provides no role for the independent umpire to scrutinise AWAs.