National Farmers' Federation

Despite the spin Labor’s IR stunt fails to convince

DESPITE the flowery rhetoric of yesterday’s policy launch, Labor’s unravelling of workplace relations laws in Australia, if elected, will be to the detriment of Australian employers and employees, alike – including those across agriculture, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) warned.
“Labor stubbornly refuses to recognise the surge in employment generated by the small business unfair dismissal exemption,” NFF President David Crombie said.
“Scrapping it will undo that growth and put Australian families back in unemployment queues. Labor’s alternative is no alternative all.
“The certainty the small business exemption from unfair dismissal provides is crucial for a workable workplace relations system – one that balances the needs of workers in securing gainful employment and the needs of employers in growing their businesses.
“Under the current workplace relations system, farmers in Victoria, the Territories and those incorporated farming businesses across the other states, have been freed from the onerous threat of dealing with unreasonable unfair dismissal procedures and claims.
“Far from scrapping the small business exemption, the NFF wants the exemption extended – to apply to all small businesses, regardless of their legal (corporate) status – along with workplace agreements.
“Returning to the past is untenable and would result in turmoil for all – employers and employees.
“It is a furphy to claim the small business exemption absolves employers from maintaining appropriate and sensible human resource practices – those practices are essential to attract and keep good staff. What it does do is remove one of the most excessive red tape burdens from small business.
“Workplace flexibility is unachievable under Labor’s retrograde bid to remove Australian Workplace Agreements, nor by adding layers of complexity to collective workplace agreements. The benefits to all Australians of two decades of reform will be wiped-out by an incoming Labor Government.
“Labor’s pledge to allow only those earning over $100,000 a year to make individual workplace agreements is farcical. If it’s good enough for them, why not all? All employees are valued by their employers, denying lower income earners the capacity to have personal say over their working lives is unfair.
“Australian employers, including farmers, need a commonsense system to manage commonsense workplaces, capable of meeting the challenges of an increasingly global marketplace. This cannot be delivered by removing effective agreement making mechanisms.
“Despite the NFF’s opposition to Labor’s industrial relations policy, we are encouraged by Labor’s commitment to maintaining the existing right of entry laws, the secondary boycott provisions and restrictions on industrial action… all important components of the current laws.
“These have eliminated the unnecessary and unwelcome intervention by unions in workplaces where employers and employees are just wanting to get on with the job.
“While this is heartening, the ACTU’s response that Labor’s policy is “an important step towards better rights for working families”, is alarming.
“How many more steps would a Labor Government have to take to appease the unions? Would, or could, a Labor Government resist such pressure? History says no.”

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