Labor will force employers to bargain collectively

In his speech to Congress, Labor leader Kim Beazley promised to introduce a new IR system that would force employers to bargain collectively if a majority of workers called for it.

Ironically, Beazley said he would use the same corporations powers John Howard used to override the state systems to establish a new and fairer system but this time by cooperating with the states.

‘I know I can only build a truly national system if I work with the States – with options like uniform Commonwealth/State legislation or harmonisation. Under no circumstances will I ride roughshod over the States, like John Howard. This is the only sensible way forward,’ he said.

Beazley says he will put the right to collectively bargain at the heart of Labor’s new workplace policy.

‘Collective bargaining works. It gives employers and employees the right incentives – to work together to find ways to lift productivity and share the gains in profits and pay.

‘If the majority of workers want a collective agreement, they’ll get one. I do not believe in one-sided rules that let employers unilaterally refuse to engage in collective bargaining when a majority of employees want it. But that’s exactly what John Howard’s IR laws allow. That’s how they’re designed.’

Beazley also confirmed his commitment to abolish individual agreements. Kim Beazley’s ACTU Congress speech can be read online at

New commitments from Labor on IR

Kim Beazley made some important announcements at ACTU Congress about Labor’s IR policy.

Under Labor’s policy:

  • If a majority of employees want a collective agreement, they will get one;
  • Employees and employers will be required to bargain in good faith; and
  • There will be no employer greenfields agreements.

This builds on previous announcements made by Beazley earlier this year to:

  • Abolish Australian Workplace Agreements;
  • Deliver decent laws that protect against unfair dismissal;
  • Recognise a role for unions in the education of workers – especially in occupational health and safety training;
  • Protect penalty rates for working public holidays.

Vox pops: A say from our nurse delegates

‘Labor’s policy has merit’

‘I came home from the Congress on a buzz. I thought Beazley was genuine. What he was offering on industrial rela-tions suggested that Labor had taken on board what we are after. I believe what he is offering us has merit and is worth considering.’

Ann Conning, RN, Gosford Hospital

‘It was emotional and inspiring seeing people stand up for their rights’ ‘It was my first time at Congress and I was very impressed by the workers who had been affected by the federal IR laws who got up and spoke. I was impressed by their dedication to the fight against the laws and inspired by how they stuck up for their rights. It was very emotional.’ Peg Hibbert, CNS, Hornsby Hospital

‘I’m proud of what we’ve been doing – and it’s having an impact’

‘It was good to see how much work the ACTU had done on its new IR policy to counteract the federal government’s laws. It was my second Congress and I realised how involved the NSWNA had been in fighting these laws along with the other unions. I’m proud of that.’

Gary Clark, Nurse Manager, St George Private Hospital