Changes to State IR laws uncertain

Wednesday 29 May 2013

In 2009 the incoming State Government commissioned the Amendola review of WA's Industrial Relations system. The review turned out to be an $850,000 fizzer as it was too extreme and ideological, even for the Barnett Government. However, a few of the recommendations have been adopted:

-       New restrictions on union rights of entry

-       'Modernising' Awards which may see the low paid, social inclusion, and equal remuneration issues being sidelined.

-       Making parties bear the costs of the other side's advocates if matters are considered vexatious.

-       Limiting arguments for pay increases for the State's lowest paid workers

-       Reducing the rights to take annual leave

-       Changes to unfair dismissal laws

Of greatest concern are the unspecified changes to procedures for the Arbitrators. It is changes to these rules which don't sound important until you have to go to the Commission and find that you are not able to run a case for lack of jurisdiction.

Your union is working with Unions WA to negotiate with the Barnett Government to try and ensure that the State IR laws continue to provide a low cost and industrially fair and effective IR system.

While things are uncertain in WA, in Queensland the wheels have well and truly fallen off. Peak employer group the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland has come out against the Newman Government's bill to stiffen regulation of unions and employer groups, because it is "ill founded" and likely to stifle democratic debate and entangle unions and employer organisations in red tape.

The CCI has described the move as 'an attack on political discussion and an attempt to make it more difficult for employer organisations, unions and associations to perform the role that their members ask of them'.

Unions, meanwhile, say the changes are an attack on freedom of association and claim they are payback for union opposition to public service job cuts.

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