The high-profile ‘Change the Rules’ campaign on worker rights by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), as well as recent comments attributed to the body regarding the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) agreement, have come under criticism from the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) and Minerals Council of Australia (MCA).
AMMA chief executive Steve Knott was critical of ACTU’s plan to place industrial relations (IR) tribunal members in charge of management decisions; he called ACTU’s plan the latest page from its “Karl Marx playbook”.
He also criticised the influence of ex-ACTU, Labor party and union officials within the Fair Work Commission (FWC); FWC president Justice Iain Ross is a former ACTU executive, while vice presidents Adam Hatcher and Joe Catanzariti are Labor Party appointees.
“Placing IR tribunal members, the overwhelming majority of whom have never run a business, at the front and centre of management decisions is a sure way to scare off much-needed investment in our country,” he said.
“It’s no surprise the ACTU’s left-activist leader wants the FWC, with ALP/union influences at the apex of its leadership, to be given unprecedented powers to make decisions on behalf of business owners.”
Earlier, Knott had commented on ACTU’s ‘Change the Rules’ campaign, calling it a “lazy, backwards agenda laden with factual errors.”
MCA interim chief executive David Byers was also critical of ACTU’s comments on the recent Trans-Pacific partnership deal (TPP-11) signed by Australia and 10 other countries— eliminating 98 per cent of tariffs in the TPP region — and how it would affect temporary skilled migration to Australia.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus recently criticised the TPP-11 deal in a statement, saying that it could risk “thousands of Australian jobs, drive down wages and lead to higher levels of inequality” due to waiving of labour-market testing.
“The agreement allows employers to overlook local workers who are ready and willing to work, particularly in areas where youth unemployment is at crisis point,” she said.
“The TPP is a toxic combination of globalisation and handing more power to big business ahead of democracy for Australian workers.”
Byers responded to this by citing Department of Home Affairs statistics showing that concerns regarding the effect of TPP on temporary skilled migration were not “borne out by the facts”, with six of the TPP-11 countries covered by the waivers accounting for just 1.2 per cent of trades and semi-skilled workers under Australia’s temporary skilled migration program.
“Several recent Australian free trade agreements have included provisions streamlining temporary entry of business people and related categories of employees under Australia’s temporary skilled migration system.
“Narrow scare-mongering on the TPP-11 by the ACTU will only serve to damage Australia’s national interest.”