National Farmers' Federation

Labor’s IR ‘evolution’, rather than ‘revolution’, is prudent

TODAY the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) moved to support the Rudd Labor Government’s process for implementing its industrial relations agenda – describing it as an “evolution, rather than a revolution”.
“It may be little understood, but the policy Labor took to the federal election will not see any extensive changes to workplace relations laws in Australia for some time – two years, in fact,” NFF President David Crombie said.
“While the NFF is extremely disappointed with Labor’s policy to abolish Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs), we believe the transitional arrangements will minimise disruption in workplaces using AWAs.
“We now need similar assurances from the Rudd Government that an equally orderly transition is in place for the abolition of the small business exemptions to unfair dismissal laws and that employers and employees are fully informed of any changes well before they occur.
“Key workplace relations issues the NFF will take up with the incoming Government, as part of discussions with business during the transitional phase, include the need for one unitary national system – as opposed to the current three industrial systems (federal, federal transitional and state) and the capacity for farming businesses to have flexibility within the workplace to remain competitive in the global market… whether farmers rely on industrial awards or workplace agreements.
“Despite the howls from some obvious quarters trying to fast-track the change process, the new Government is taking a sensible approach. What Labor proposed at the election was a transitional timetable – with reform being necessarily incremental to enable discussion at all levels to ensure the detail is right, minimising problems upon implementation.”
Mr Crombie noted unrealistic expectations that the new Rudd Government would, or could, simply dismantle Australia’s industrial relations system overnight.
“That isn’t Labor’s stated policy and those expectations need to be quashed,” he said. “It’s interesting some have been trying to twist the new Government’s arm even before it was sworn in, but as Labor’s policy clearly takes into account, any wholesale overthrow of the system would result in industrial chaos.
“The new Australian Government needs to ‘stick to its guns’ and weather the tirade from those expecting an IR revolution.”

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