Saturday, June 28, 2008


Red News Readers,

The Your Rights at Work Campaign did not campaign for change in 2010. It campaigned for change in 2008 and that is what should happen. This delay smells of a deal with employers. The ACTU needs to pull its finger out of its proverbial and put some weight behind the demand for the implementation of the new IR legislation in 2008 and stop namby pambying around, or the unions with the will should start campaigning.

Jenny Haines

Unions push for earlier workplace system start

Mark Davis Political Correspondent, smh

June 28, 2008

UNION leaders are pressing the Federal Government to introduce key elements of its planned new industrial relations system sooner, rather than waiting until 2010 for the laws to take effect.

The ACTU secretary, Jeff Lawrence, said the Government's planned protections against workers being sacked unfairly and its rules regulating collective bargaining should come into effect as soon as possible.

The Government has said it will introduce its industrial relations legislation to Parliament later this year, but that much of the new regime will not come into effect until 2010.

The legislation will dismantle the Coalition's Work Choices system, creating a new industrial regulator, Fair Work Australia, national employment standards and modernised industrial awards from January 2010.

But Mr Lawrence said Labor's unfair dismissal and collective bargaining provisions should commence as soon as the legislation has passed Parliament.

"Australians had voted last November to get rid of Work Choices," he said. "They are expecting those rights to be restored and there is no reason, given Labor has flagged their policies in these areas, why they should not take effect immediately."

The collective bargaining provisions in the legislation set out the ground rules for unions and employers when negotiating workplace agreements.

The provisions the ACTU wants in place before 2010 include:

■ requirements for employers and unions to bargain in good faith;
■ measures allowing ballots of workers to determine whether they want to be covered by a collective agreement, and;
■ removal of legislative restrictions on the content of collective agreements.

The Government is consulting unions and employer groups about the details of its industrial relations legislation before introducing the measures.

The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, has insisted Labor will stick to the industrial relations policies it took to the last election.

But the unions believe an early start-up date for parts of the legislation is not inconsistent with Labor's election promises.

Employers have been resisting the union push for parts of the legislation to commence earlier.

The Australian Industry Group's chief executive, Heather Ridout, has said the best approach would be to have all elements of the new system come into operation from January 2010.

The group is concerned that having different starting dates for different elements of the legislation would create confusion in workplaces and would make the Workplace Relations Act more complex through the need for additional transitional arrangements.

The commencement date for the collective bargaining ground rules will have important ramifications, because hundreds of enterprise agreements are due for renegotiation in the manufacturing industry early next year.