Ai Group calls for changes to industrial relations system

Australian Industry Group has thrown its weight behind moved by the federal government to take a fresh look at reinvigorating Australia’s workplace relations system, however it has cautioned against ‘sweeping changes’.

Ai Group CEO, Innes Willox, said: “A workplace relations system that operates efficiently and effectively for a modern economy at a time of significant change and challenge is crucial to Australia meeting the urgent need to improve our flatlining national productivity.

“The reality is that sweeping changes are not needed to overhaul the Fair Work Act.

“However, the way the Act operates has some clear deficiencies and some sensible and practical amendments are required.”

Ai Group’s priorities include:

# Uncertainties caused by the Federal Court’s Workpac v Skene decision about casual employment. A definition for the term ‘casual employee’ needs to be inserted into the Fair Work Act.

# Steps should be taken to refresh Australia’s enterprise agreement making system and address current technical barriers. A key change is to implement the Productivity Commission’s recommendation that the Better Off Overall Test for enterprise agreements should be amended so that it applies to logical groups of employees rather than every individual employee.

# There is a need to stop unions siphoning off the investment earnings on workers’ entitlements in construction and electrical contracting industry redundancy funds. Why is this not ‘wage theft’?

# Finally the Ensuing Integrity Bill is also important. This Bill is aimed at ensuring that registered organisations and their officers comply with the law. Organisations and officers who comply with the law have nothing to worry about from this Bill.

Willox said: “These are priority areas for industry to renew confidence of employers in operations of the workplace relations system. The Australian Industry Group looks forward to participating in the Government’s consultation process.”

Picture: Innes Willox

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