ACTU attempts to discredit Labor’s Fair Work Act are simply a push for more union power

“The ACTU’s ongoing attempts to re-imagine the past by portraying Labor’s Fair Work Act as unfair to unions and workers don’t stand the most cursory of scrutiny,” Australian Industry Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

“Labor’s Fair Work Act increased union power in over 100 areas and substantially boosted the entitlements of workers. When the Act was introduced it was widely criticised by employers and widely applauded by unions. The changes that the unions are now seeking include increased rights to strike, less power for the Fair Work Commission to make decisions that benefit businesses and a raft of new entitlements for employees and unions.

“The unions want us all to believe that giving them more power to organise strikes and to force employers to cave in to their demands is just the medicine that the community needs. Magically this will somehow create more jobs, higher wages and improved living standards for all. The arguments are breathtakingly simplistic, and obviously wrong.

“The reality is that we live in a globally connected world where businesses need to remain productive, efficient and globally competitive in order to survive and grow. The success of workers is integrally connected to the success of their employers. Secure jobs and higher wages can only be offered by businesses that are successful.

“Some sensible changes are needed to the Fair Work Act, but not the ones that the unions want to swing the balance in their favour. Four changes that are needed are:

  1. To give the Commission more discretion to overlook minor procedural defects in enterprise agreement approval applications, as would be delivered through the passage of the Fair Work Amendment (Repeal of 4 Yearly Reviews and Other Measures) Bill 2017 through Parliament;
  2. To address current problems with the Better Off Overall Test for enterprise agreements to ensure that the test is applied by the Commission to logical groups of employees, and not individual employees;
  3. Redressing the transfer of business laws that are impeding businesses in restructuring to remain competitive, and are reducing job opportunities for workers; and
  4. Tightening the permitted matters for bargaining claims and enterprise agreement content, including outlawing clauses that restrict the engagement of contractors.

“The unions’ attempts to discredit Labor’s Fair Work Act need to be seen for what they are – a push for more union power at the community’s expense,” Mr Willox said.

Media enquiries
Tony Melville – 0419 190 347

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) is a peak employer organisation in Australia which represents the interests of thousands of businesses in an expanding range of industry sectors including: manufacturing; engineering; construction; food & beverage processing; transport & logistics; information technology; telecommunications; labour hire; and defence. Ai Group’s influence crosses all areas of workplace development and sustainability. aigroup.com.au