An opinion editorial by Australian Chamber CEO James Pearson
I hear every day from business how the Fair Work Act is holding back productivity and competitiveness and harming communities throughout the country.
The status quo, through the current Fair Work Act, is unwieldy, inconsistent and deliberately skewed against employers. Yes, you read that right – employers. Despite what Sally McManus would have you believe, employers are just as aggrieved by problems in our workplace relations laws as the ACTU. But we don’t make quite as much noise about it. Perhaps it’s time we did.
In 2015, the Productivity Commission made 70 recommendations to repair imbalances and problems in the existing legislation – clear, independent evidence of the need for change.
But in a twist worthy of Bizarro world, where everything is opposite, the ACTU wants to add to regulation, make it more risky for business to employ people, and skew the system even further in favour of unions that fewer than 10% of Australians in the private sector choose to join.
In this Bizzaro world, employers and government are tempted to become defenders of the status quo, of the increasingly flawed Fair Work Act, as we face the very real prospect of something much, much worse.
The ACTU wants to change the workplace relations “rules” it effectively ghost wrote under the Rudd Government.
Unions are cynically vilifying their own legislation and running a campaign to scare working people into thinking that making a bad situation worse will be better for them.
The evidence from the Productivity Commission is that substantial practical problems plague our existing workplace relations rules in areas such as bargaining, industrial action, agreement approval, and unfair dismissal.
These are genuine problems that need to be fixed and we have sensible proposals to start to fix them.
There must be a way forward which repairs the existing Fair Work Act and avoids the highly damaging “change the rules” proposals being pushed by the ACTU.
In other developed countries workplace legislation is not fatter than a phone book, and workplace relations is not a dark art, able to be understood and interpreted only by the industrial relations illuminati. Our workplace laws are holding one hand behind our back as we try to navigate an increasingly competitive world.
There simply must be a better way. Repairing the problems with the Fair Work Act identified by the Productivity Commission would be a good start.
The way we regulate work really matters –to our economy, to our living standards, and to jobs, especially for our young people.
Both major parties understood this in the 1980s and 1990s, spearheaded by the policy leadership of Hawke and Keating, then Howard and Reith.
We need to recapture the bipartisan policy foundations that proved productive and beneficial for all Australians and we need to recognise that how we regulate work is critical.
Australian business won’t be able to provide affordable jobs without genuine workplace relations reform in the right direction.
We owe it to our young people, to make it easier, not harder, to employ.
For all the retro, 1970s class war rhetoric, for all the high cost, slick advertisements, social media and rallies, the ACTU’s proposals will ultimately serve the interests of only one group: union officials.
The change in the rules they demand would make it easier for a dispute in one firm to mutate into a strike to shut down a whole industry.
Anyone with an ounce of sense knows that more strikes and law breaking can only hurt our country.
The ACTU proposals are calculated to create an artificial divide between employees and employers, between managers and teams, in a strategy that must gladden the hearts of ageing Marxists and class warriors.
Business rejects the politics of division.
Employers and employees, managers and the teams they lead, need to work together to succeed.
It’s extraordinary that the ACTU now wants to return us to the era of milk strikes, school strikes, petrol strikes, transport strikes and even beer strikes – and apparently give union officials carte blanche to break the law.
That’s just not how we should do industrial relations in the 21st century.
My members across the country tell me that the current system isn’t working in key areas.
The rules do need to change, starting in areas such as:
All of us with an interest in making our country more competitive need work laws that work and that get the balance right.
We all need to tackle the very real problems confronting the existing Fair Work Act, starting with those identified by the Productivity Commission, not those invented via focus group testing by the ACTU.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomes the decision of the COAG Energy Council to progress development of the detailed design of the National...
An opinion editorial by Australian Chamber CEO James Pearson All eyes in the business community will be on Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and his state...
The ACTU’s claim that a 7.2% minimum wage rise will create tens of thousands of new jobs shirtfronts the small business people who would need...
The decision to lift the ban on fracking in the Northern Territory has been welcomed by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The lifting...
Inflating concerns around temporary work visa numbers is a cynical move by the ACTU to play on unfounded fears by some in the community that...
Reports of a significant fall in permanent migration for 2017-18 reinforce business concerns that Federal Government support is weakening for skilled migration. Australian Chamber of...
Breakfast on Radio National with Hamish MacDonald interviewing James Pearson, CEO, Australian Chamber, about the ACTU's push for a better deal for workers by releasing...
The ACTU has today sought to call time on enterprise bargaining, in a bid to expose Australia to the law of the jungle. It’s now...
Calls today by Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg for practical outcomes to be put ahead of ideologies in addressing national energy issues are strongly supported...
“The ACTU’s proposed policy package and its war against employers is a recipe for disaster not supported by the facts”, said the Australian Chamber of...
The robots are coming to change the way we all work, and one expert is predicting “quite a lot of people in smart, well paid...
Envato is one of the darlings of the Australian startup sector, a rare billion-dollar ‘unicorn’ in a field where failure is more usual than success....
We’ve been hearing from CEOs across all types of organisations in Australia and New Zealand...
The positive growth trend of international visitors to Australia reflected in the latest International Visitor Survey, reinforces the status of tourism as a powerhouse in...
The commitment made today by the Federal Labor Opposition to allow all businesses to immediately deduct 20 per cent off any new eligible asset worth...
An increase of up to 1.9% in the minimum wage and award wages, consistent with the current rate of inflation, is reasonable as our economy...
The first appointment of an Australian businessperson to become Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has been welcomed by the Australian Chamber...
The ACTU risks damaging small business and employment through excessive wage demands, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (“Australian Chamber”) said today. “The union’s...
Australian Chamber CEO, James Pearson discusses tariffs and the union's latest war on business on ABC Radio National.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Australian Chamber) is calling out the ACTU on its latest scare campaign against Australian business, saying if the ACTU...