New IR laws may unbalance pay levels

A new industrial relations system could put highly skilled workers at a salary disadvantage.

A new industrial relations system set to come into effect in the new year will mean an uneven playing field for highly skilled trades people, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia (CCIWA) has said in a statement.

According to CCIWA principal industrial relations policy adviser Jonric Ridley, by introducing an award that will see the same pay scale for all on-site workers the Federal Government will severely disadvantage highly skilled workers and discourage future workers from striving to improve.

“The pay scale to be adopted will result in substantial wage increases for some workers with no corresponding change in the nature of their job; and pay cuts for highly skilled trades,” he said.

“This will discourage people from wanting to improve their skills by learning a trade as it will not result in better pay and conditions.”

Ridley added that these increased costs will also increase the costs of doing business and potentially threaten scheduled and future major resource projects.

“These cost increases could also threaten the viability of multi-billion dollar resource projects both planned and prospective,” he said.

The new industrial relations laws are due to come into effect on 1 January 2010.

Ridley said that the CCIWA has lodged a submission to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission seeking changes to the new award and urges Western Australian businesses to seek expert advice on what the new award system will mean for their business before the changes are introduced.

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