Federal workplace relations minister Bill Shorten is expected to make a statement today on an expansion of the Fair Work Commission’s powers, allowing them to arbitrate on things including disputes on new workplace agreements and workplace access by union officials.
The Australian Financial Review reports today that Shorten is expected to attempt to bring a round of workplace changes through parliament before the September 14 election.
Cochlear, who are in a dispute over the right to deal with employees directly rather than through the AMWU, is likely to oppose any changes.
The Australian reports that the ACTU has called the move long overdue, and would allow Cochlear employees to seek arbitration in their dispute.
Resource companies and the opposition were less impressed at the idea of the FWC arbitrating in the case of deadlocked EBA cases on new projects, designed to appease “union bosses”.
"Mr Shorten is hopelessly conflicted as the most partisan Workplace Relations Minister in living memory,” said the opposition’s Eric Abetz.
“He is simply incapable of acting in the national interest."
The Australian Mines and Metals Association said that changes to union access to worksites would see them use lunch rooms to recruit members, and did not favour arbitration by the FWC.
"This gives unions the green light to make wildly ambit claims, and then have a good chance that one of their ex-union mates at Fair Work will arbitrate an outcome," said AMMA’s Steve Knott.