Gillard concedes ‘drop dead’ argument

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has conceded the Australian Mines and Metals Association's (AMMA) argument against 'drop dead' dates for old workplace agreements.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has conceded the Australian Mines and Metals Association’s (AMMA) argument against ‘drop dead’ dates for old workplace agreements.

The Deputy Prime Minister used an address to delegates at the Australian Labour Law Association’s Fourth Biennial Conference in Melbourne to announce some of the decisions she has made regarding the final form of the Government’s draft workplace relations legislation as a consequence of the feedback she received from Committee on Industrial Legislation (COIL).

COIL is a long standing sub committee of the tripartite National Workplace Relations Consultative Council.

“Of course most workplaces already bargain in good faith without any intervention,” Gillard said.

“Occasionally, though, this does not happen. In these circumstances, the independent industrial umpire Fair Work Australia will be able to make good faith bargaining orders that can for example, direct parties to meet; to disclose relevant information; to consider proposals and respond to them; and refrain from unfair or capricious conduct.”

COIL met for two weeks in Canberra in October to analyse and review the Government’s draft workplace relations legislation.

Gillard credited the work undertaken by members of the Committee on Industrial Legislation (COIL), including AMMA’s Director Workplace Policy Christopher Platt.

“The feedback from the COIL process was mostly in the form of helpful technical suggestions, although a number of significant policy issues were debated which required the Government’s further consideration,” Gillard said.

Australia’s mining, oil and gas industry recently described any move by the Government towards the unilateral termination of existing industrial agreements in workplaces as the equivalent of a ‘dirty bomb’.

“The unilateral termination of all existing agreements would force employers to bargain all over again to retain existing flexibilities, and conversely could result in employees falling back to minimum award wages well below previously agreed rates” AMMA’s Director of Workplace Policy, Chris Platt said.

“Such a move, if it happened would be the equivalent of a dirty bomb for the mining sector.”

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