Industry not delighted by Coalition IR policy


Industry groups have criticised the Coalition’s new industrial relations policies as not going far enough. They claim they will not deliver the confidence that the economy needs.

As the ABC reports, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry would have liked to have seen a return to individual contracts, as was the case with the previous Coalition government’s WorkChoices policy.

 The group's chief executive, Peter Anderson said, "They have not gone far enough with this policy announcement."

"We largely will have the old fair work system based on one-size-fits-all rules, based on collective union bargaining in place, both in content and in structure, and that's a disappointment to us."

Opposition leader Tony Abbott said in a statement that Australian Workplace Agreements would not be re-introduced by a Coalition government and that existing safety nets would not be weakened.

However, the new policy released on Thursday includes these reforms:

  • The Australian Building and Construction Commission will be re-established, with all its former powers.
  • The ability of workers to strike will be further limited. Strike action will have to follow ''meaningful talks'' with the employer.
  • The rights of unions to enter workplaces will be further limited to where they were in the previous Howard government.
  • A Registered Organisations Commission will be established to make union officials ''play by similar rules'' to companies and their directors.
  • Small businesses that that are break the rules of the Fair Work Ombudsman will be treated more leniently in some cases.

The policy also proposes to encourage workplace flexibility. Any changes would not be able to leave any individual worker worse off.

As reported in the SMH, the ACTU has interpreted this as a return to WorkChoices. It claims that such flexibility would be a means of pressuring workers into accepting worse pay and conditions.

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten concurred with this view, saying the policy “…should send a shiver up the spine of every Australian worker.''