Industry groups’ wishlist for workplace relations reforms

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Australian government will look at workplace relations reform, a range of industry groups have reportedly outlined what they would like to see from the federal government.

While the manufacturing sector employs roughly one in twelve Australians, productivity in the sector has declined, and only accounts for 6.8 per cent of national GDP. Although workplace relations is only one part of this puzzle, setting clear standards for flexibility while having a strong safety net are high among the concerns for manufacturers, as outlined by Manufacturing Australia in its submission to the Productivity Commission.

AiGroup chief executive, Innes Willox, outlined four areas for reform. He mentioned that firstly, the government needs to define casual employment in the Fair Work Act. Second, address technical barriers in the enterprise bargaining system. Thirdly, reducing union transfer of redundancy funds to unions. Finally, he argues that the government must ensure that registered organisations and their officers should comply with the law.

Overall, however, Willox noted that sweeping changes are not needed.

“However, the way the Act operates has some clear deficiencies and some sensible and practical amendments are required to improve the way that the system operates for all parties,” said Willox.

The secretary of the ACTU, Sally McManus, highlighted that industrial relations reform should focus on increasing wages, with the reinstatement of penalty rates, the implementation of a national living wage, and caps on pay rises for Commonwealth public sector workers removed.

“I’ve written to Scott Morrison calling for immediate action to address this wages crisis. Working people need the power to fight for and win pay rises which will boost consumer spending and re-ignite growth,” said McManus.