Australia’s major employer associations have joined together to express concern that elements of the Secure Jobs Better Pay Bill being considered by the Federal Parliament would introduce fundamental and highly problematic changes to Australia’s bargaining system that would be detrimental to Australia.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Australian Industry Group; Business Council of Australia; Minerals Council of Australia; the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA); and National Farmers’ Federation are united in a call for the Government to either abandon or substantially amend various contentious elements of the Bill relating to bargaining.
The Bill, as currently framed, should not be passed by Parliament.
We jointly call on the Government to permit time for a thorough consideration of the content and implications of the Bill. This deeper consideration should include removing the provisions to allow widespread use of multi-employer bargaining backed by strike action. The Australian Parliament should remain open to making further amendments.
The legislation as drafted does not reflect broad consensus arising out of engagement with industry at the Jobs and Skills Summit or subsequent consultation. It is crucial these proposals are thoroughly examined.
The national employer associations are particularly concerned that the Bill:
- Unjustifiably expands the scope for multi-employer bargaining;
- Fails to articulate clear parameters around where multi-employer bargaining would be available in either the supported bargaining or single-interest streams; and
- Undermines the system of enterprising bargaining that has delivered many significant benefits to Australia over several decades and currently operates effectively in many sectors.
The currently proposed framework for arbitrating bargaining disputes also risks unreasonably subjecting broad sectors of the economy, and community, to the centralised setting of terms and conditions over and above the comprehensive system of modern awards already in place.
The new laws would not deliver any identifiable path to productivity improvements that Australia so badly needs and that are the key to delivering sustainable improvements in wages.
The organisations recognise the Government has made amendments to the Bill to address some of the concerns that have been previously raised, as well as its commitment to consider further amendments to the Bill. Although such an approach is welcome, there is a shared view that there are many additional deficiencies in the Bill that should be addressed.
We remain prepared to continue to work with Government, constructively and in good faith, to realise the shared objective of ensuring that changes to Australia’s workplace relations laws improve our productivity performance and promote sustainable real wages growth. To enable this to occur and for sensible improvements to the proposed legislation to be made, a detailed examination of the multi-employer bargaining elements and their justification is needed.
We call on the Government to consider all suggestions to improve the Bill in a reasonable and coherent way.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry – CEO Andrew McKellar
Australian Industry Group – Chief Executive Innes Willox
Business Council of Australia – Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott
Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia – CEO Alexi Boyd
Minerals Council of Australia – CEO Tania Constable
National Farmers Federation – Acting CEO Warwick Ragg