Unions attack IR laws

The Federal Government's new industrial relation laws were attacked on the first day of a Senate inquiry into the bill, held in Brisbane yesterday.

The Federal Government’s new industrial relation laws were attacked on the first day of a Senate inquiry into the bill, held in Brisbane yesterday.

There are concerns the Fair Work Bill could trigger a union turf war and undermine productivity in bad economic times.

Christopher Platt from the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) told the hearing the industry’s main concern with the bill was the boost to union power.

“Our concerns…(include) the increased right of entry, the inability to do non-union agreements, the restrictions on entering into Greenfield agreements and the good faith bargaining requirements will hamper productivity both in a good economic climate and a bad one.”

Platt also said that the right of entry provisions could reopen union turf wars as they fight for members in the industry.

Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) general secretary Ron Monaghan dismissed claims that unions will be given too much power, saying the laws would help restore workers’ rights instead.

“We need to compare the Fair Work Bill to Work Choices,” Monaghan told MINING DAILY.

“Work Choices denied workers a lot of benefits. Plus, under the old agreements, employers were legally allowed to reduce their workers wages and they did so. Those saying that the unions will have too much power are beating something out of nothing.”

“The QCU has given the Federal Government a big tick for finally scrapping Work Choices that said, however, there is still a way to go.”

Monaghan said some workers could lose rights by going onto a national system.

“The arbitration of disputes should be widened. Workers should be allowed to seek arbitration at the end of the bargaining process if a resolution has not been reached. Under the amended legislation, the arbitration powers are too limited.”

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