Conference Live-Blogging

We will be liveblogging the conference here and also live-tweeting it @HRNSociety. Keep regularly refreshing this page for updates!

1:02 Ken Phillips opens the conference. Notes presence of many young persons and pays tribute to the late Charles Copeman, one of the founding members of the society. Warns of future international economic challenges, particular concern regarding Japan. Australia is failing to take the necessary action to survive.

1:05 Cost of developing a resources project in Australia has gone up 45% in the last 5 years . Big part of this is industrial relations. Businesses and managers must shoulder some of the responsibility.

1:10 Theresa Moltoni up first on the changing industrial relations landscape in Australia

1:15 Theresa detailing the appointment of union official after union official after union officials to the Fair Work Commission

1:20 Over 14000 unfair dismissal applications in the last year to the Fair Work Commission – more than triple what they were under the old act. Protected Action numbers are blowing out. Working days lost has skyrocketed from 50 a year  to 273 in last five years

1:25 Creation of two new ‘FWC vice-presidents’ and giving greater power to the president was ploy to give more power to union officials

1;30 Creation of taxpayer-subsidised payments to aged care workers only if they are on an EB that paid above award rathes can be described as a way to launder taxpayer money through employers to unions.

1:35: Scott Barklam from AMMA up now on the damaging costs and risks of doing business under the FWA as it has impacted the resources industry. In 1980’s we changed from one of the worst systems in the world, to one of the best, and simultaneously changed workplace culture to a much more positive one, but now we’re legally going backwards. We now have $350 billion in viable but uncommitted projects as Australia is becoming an expensive place to do business and our IR laws is making us a risky investment.

1:40 In 2009-19 we were 7th in OECD productivity. Now we are 18th,   “IR regulation is arguably the most crucial area of regulation to get right” – Gary Banks, former head of of the Productivity Commission.

1:45 Importance of migration policy and the opportunistic poll driven attack on skilled worker migration pushed by rich unions and Gillard/Swan which is contrary to evidence. The current attack is flirting with industrial xenophobia drawing on the ugliest parts of Union history and the White Australia Policy (of whom Higgins and the Trade Unions historically were the strongest suporter)

1:50 Right of entry laws – another broken promise by the government – has led to unions competing for members in workplaces  – hundreds of visits a year in some cases just for recruitment purposes.

2:05: Point for discussion: Should our IR system contain protections for employers as well as employees?

2:10 We are vastly over-regulated – with no gain for employers or employees. We especially try to regulate too many “what ifs”. Our fair work architecture is flawed: very poor decisions in WorkChoices made worse in 2009, and now both parties want to keep this flawed architecture. Putting unions (with less than 14% of workers as members) at the centre of the IR system, is problematic. Overall these things make it hard to attract international investment, and costs jobs.

2:12 In international rankings we are 123rd in flexibility of wage determination, 12th in hiring and firing practices, 80th in pay and productivity, 67th in co-operation in labour markets, and 42nd in overall labour market efficiency.

2:20 Paul Fletcher MP discussing  te vital – yet often neglected – issue of superannuation advancing the power of unions. Unions and the ALP have deliberately designed a governance program to financially benefit unions and increase their power to compensate for their dwindling membership.

2:45 HSU officials were on Super Boards – is there spillover of union corruption into super funds? We need stronger governance structures.

2:47 Union officials are there as ‘reward’ for service to the union and to pick up hefty fees – they generally do not have financial management expirience.

3:20 Kyle Kutasi presenting via Skype on the cautionary tale from the United States and lessons for policy mistakes we should avoid

3:40 While the US looks like it may be moving to dismantle some of their outdated labour market policies, in Australia it looks like we may be going in the opposite direction, with the FWA an article of faith for the ALP, and the Coalition “too scared to touch it”.

4:00 Grace Collier: Of the 14063 unfair dismissal applications, only 110 had employees win their case, and only 17 were reinstated

4:05 Enterprise Bargaining started as the only way you could legally alter awards. But is it achieving any of its aims? Wages on Enterprise Agreements are increasing considerably in comparison with awards, and many companies are now paying award rates with higher performing workers on individual contracts. Grace argues that businesses when they try to negotiate Enterprise Agreements with Unions, they consistently get out-negotiated by unions.

4:10 The market will eventually resolve problems with EBAs because the companies that are giving in to the unions will fail, and others will take their place – IF we let them.

4:15 Holden have bargained themselves into oblivion. They have taken our money and spent it on their own indulgences and will probably leave the country. This ultimately be be a good thing as we will pay less for cars and the economy will benefit. The longer the unfair

4:20 There is a clause in the Holden EBA that staff are paid one month’s “leave” a year to further  “industrial relations development” (ie how to be a  “good unionist”). Unions also need to approve all casuals, number of casuals, tasks they will do, and any casual after 3 months has to be made full time.

4:30 Russell Zimmerman from the Australian Retail Association: The retail industry simply can not afford the campaign to increase wages for young persons.  Governments figure for proposed cost is simply wrong as it does not include penalty rates.

4:50 A moving tribute from Ray Evans on the passing of the late, great Charles Copeman.

5:00 Alison Copeman pays tribute to the Society, and notes that Charles would have never taken on Robe River case without HRN and its founders

5:05 Panel discussion and interactive session:  policy suggestions that should be implemented as soon as possible:

Theresa Moltoni:abolish matters pertaining rule that restricts what can be bargained ono, bring back limits to right to entry, and restoring enterprise bargaining to pre work choices

John Lloyd: LImit agreements back to employer and employee matters, remove restrictions on engagement of contractors and labor hire, reestablish the ABCC and abolish the building code from legislation, and remove the award system and replace it with statutory minimum

Des Moore: Abolish the Fair Work Commission,  Recognise how there is no imbalance in the employer-employee relationship

Ken Phillips: Hand back small business powers to the state, separate IR system for the public sector, and a separate IR system for large businesses. Procurement policies of governments in the construction sector
Ray Evans: IR should be returned to the states as constitutionally designed and intended.
1 reply
  1. Lee Kuzmanovic
    Lee Kuzmanovic says:

    As a shiny new members we enjoyed our first conferance.
    We can see there is much work to do to put our country on its right platform for growth and prosperity. We need to act fast.
    This election campaign needs to have some swift and prescise action. If the coalition is too scared to stir the pot maybe we need to implement a quick stratergy to bring to the electorate the burning issues . The mums and dads and the kids that vote watch the magazine tv shows!! Lets look how the other side play the game it’s successful because its all propaganda. Fire with fire !!!!!!!!!! Lee Kuzmanovic

    Reply

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