Former Fair Work Commission vice-president Graeme Watson believes the country’s industrial umpire is no longer performing its function properly.
Watson, who made the comments to the Centre for Independent Studies in a speech last week, will be speaking at CCI’s IR Conference on 6 April.
He says structural changes pushed through by the previous Labor government, exclusion and favouritism was impacting on the commission’s ability to enforce the Fair Work Act.
Watson first outlined his concerns with the commission in his January resignation letter to Employment Minister Michaelia Cash.
In the letter, he said it was becoming increasingly clear to him the workplace relations system was undermining the objectives of the Fair Work legislation.
“I do not consider that the system provides a framework for co-operative and productive workplace relations, and I do not consider that it promotes economic prosperity or social inclusion. Nor do it consider that it can be described as balanced,” he said.
He also said the outcome of unfair dismissal cases had become very unpredictable and the enterprise bargaining process wasn’t working.
“No clear and consistent guidance can be gleaned from decided cases,” he said.
“Undergoing a defence of a claim, especially with an unpredictable outcome, has made the process a penalty in itself.
“Enterprise agreement approval provisions remain unduly complex and technical. By operation of the system, an agreement made directly with employees is more difficult to make, and more difficult to have approved than an agreement made with the support of a union.”
AustralianSuper – which has more than 2.1 million members and manages member assets of $105 billion – is a diamond sponsor of this event. It is an industry fund run only to profit members
► Graeme Watson will be sharing more of his industry insights as a keynote speaker at the 2017 IR Conference on April 6. Book your tickets here.