Reduce Powers of Fair Work Australia

The HR Nicholls Society welcomes the undertaking given by Coalition Leader, Tony Abbott, that if elected he will restore workplace relations regulation to the “sensible centre”. However, to reach the sensible centre will involve major legislative changes requiring that decisions by the Fair Work Commission involving increases in wages and other improvements in working conditions provide for increases in productivity and that those increases are formally agreed by both employers and (where involved) unions. The Commission should also be required to make decisions consistent with the economic policies of the Government.

These changes should not simply involve the establishment of an appeal body: Fair Work’s role must itself have appropriate provisions.

The problem with existing arrangements was highlighted by the Fair Work Commission decision yesterday to award massive increases (18-30%) in wage rates for apprentices. This decision was by a full bench comprised of all ex-unionists. If implemented it would clearly have adverse effects on employment, particularly youth employment. HR Nicholls calls for the Coalition to announce that if elected it  will take steps to ensure the decision is reviewed.

However HR Nicholls welcomes the statement by the head of the ACTU, Dave Oliver, that a Coalition government should not “tear up agreements negotiated freely between workers and employers” in regard to new projects. Agreements negotiated freely between workers and employers should not be confined to new projects but should extend across the board, provided they are negotiated freely. Mr Abbott should remind Oliver that it is  the responsibility of the federal government to manage the economy.

Adam Bisits, President HR Nicholls Society (0438 405 527)
Publicity Officer: Des Moore (9867 1235)