By all accounts, the choice is clear what mining professionals prefer: real flexibility and choice in workplace agreements. Jamie Wade writes
A total of 75% of respondents to Australian Mining’s latest online poll said the mining industry in Australia would be worse off under a Federal ALP Government, and you can’t argue with that.
In another poll we ran earlier in the year 60% of respondents said they supported AWAs in the mining industry.
Let’s face it: most mining professionals simply don’t have confidence in the ALP.
While Labor has made significant progress on its industrial relations policy — it’s fallen short of real flexibility and choice and failed to deliver an appropriate substitute for the abolition of AWAs.
To Labor’s credit it has made a go in its preparedness to accommodate mining’s primary requirement for a modern and progressive industrial relations system. It has consulted business on statutory individual contracts, right of entry provisions, industrial action and compliance measures.
Notwithstanding that the ALP has gone to considerable lengths to address the industry’s concerns about “backsliding” on two decades of workplace relations reforms, the ALP policy will limit choice and flexibility in the full range of employment instruments — critical to cater for the vast operational diversity across the mining industry and to the modern workplace culture of collaborative, direct, mutually beneficial, employer and employee relationships. Labor’s proposal for employees earning over $100,000 to have access to individual common law contracts that are not subjugated by Awards but are subject to Labor’s safety net test of “10 national employment standards is not an appropriate substitute for AWAs.
The ALP’s policy has access to the full range of employment instruments and introduces an arbitrary demarcation, in effect creating two classes of employees, risking a return to conflict, undermining the hard-won culture of collaboration in workplace relationships.
On a matter of practicality — this arbitrary demarcation is accentuated by the $100,000 threshold — it is way too high to accommodate key operatives in mining who want, individual employment contracts – nearly two-thirds of industry employees would fall short of the threshold and have access only to common law contracts underpinned by Awards restricting flexibility and choice.
Regardless which party forms the next government, mining needs policies to overcome skills shortages, policies that deliver sound economic management and further taxation reform, policies that give a greater share of national infrastructure projects and spending to the industry, policies that maintain the current industrial relations system, and policies that improve State/Federal relations.