CCIWA has warned of ‘serious risks’ to business after the Federal Government unveiled a suite of proposed changes to Australia’s IR laws that include the introduction of multi-employer bargaining agreements.
The Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill, which was introduced to Parliament today, is the most significant piece of IR reform in many years and targets areas such as:
- Amending the Objects of the Fair Work Act (FW Act)
- Broadening the single-interest employer test and substantial changes to multi-employer bargaining
- Changes to the Better-Off Overall Test (BOOT)
- Limitation on the use of fixed-term contracts
- Changes to flexible work
- Increased avenues for arbitration of dispute
The Bill also abolishes the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) and the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), with the Fair Work Ombudsman to receive nearly $70 million in funding to replace the functions of the ABCC.
CCIWA CEO Chris Rodwell said introducing ‘industry-wide’ agreements posed “serious risks to businesses”.
“The proposal exposes more WA businesses to strikes and creates the risk of sector-wide strikes,” he said. It would force businesses with little in common to bargain together, against their choice.
“This would pose one of the biggest threats to productivity in a generation, and stifle competition between businesses. It would result in complex, unsuitable, and expensive conditions being imposed on small and medium businesses. You cannot increase wages without increasing productivity.
“A mandatory “one-size-fits-all” approach is something CCIWA and the whole Australian business community has warned against. It will contribute to more downward revisions of Australia’s productivity growth, and ultimately economic growth, as we saw in the Budget.”
Rodwell said any multi-employer bargaining approach must be ‘opt in’ for businesses, which was the premise of all discussions around the Jobs Summit.
CCIWA welcomes changes to the “Better-Off Overall Test”, which will ensure that the BOOT is applied by the Fair Work Commission as it was initially intended — flexibly and as a global assessment — but this does not offset the impacts that would be felt under a system that is hard to distinguish from pattern bargaining.
Robust consultation needed
With the Bill now before Parliament, CCIWA Members can expect strong representations to Canberra about the serious risks posed by the Government’s proposed approach.
CCIWA’s Small Business Summit on October 28 will serve as a forum where Members’ voices to be heard on this and other issues.
CCIWA will also be travelling to Canberra in coming weeks to ensure the issues raised by our Members are amplified to decision-makers.
We will take further action via the Chamber movement, which has already called for a full and detailed Senate inquiry, to urge the Government to revise its approach.
The proposed changes will also be a key topic at CCIWA’s HR Live Spring update on November 9.
Our Employee Relations Advice Centre is also available to respond to your questions on (08) 9365 7660, or via firstname.lastname@example.org.