The Abbott Government recently announced they would ask the Productivity Commission to conduct a review of Australia’s ‘workplace relations framework’.
We’ve been asked by many members what this actually means. Simply put, it means the Abbott Government is seeking to have the Commission review the laws and the Federal Government institutions that oversee these laws such as the Fair Work Commission and Ombudsman.
In particular the Government has requested the Productivity Commission review the following:
- unemployment, underemployment and job creation
- fair and equitable pay and conditions for employees, including the maintenance of a relevant safety net
- small businesses
- productivity, competitiveness and business investment
- the ability of business and the labour market to respond appropriately to changing economic conditions
- patterns of engagement in the labour market
- the ability for employers to flexibly manage and engage with their employees
- barriers to bargaining
- red tape and the compliance burden for employers
- industrial conflict and days lost due to industrial action
- appropriate scope for independent contracting.
As you can see there is a wide range of issues that the Federal Government is seeking the Commission to consider. But make no mistake, the thrust of the review is for the Commission to consider options in relation to minimum wage levels, and penalty payments such as shift work and overtime.
No doubt this will mean removing, or at the very least, lessening the entitlements that currently exist.
For our membership, as we have seen so many times in the past from a Liberal Government, this means an attack on wages and conditions. Many are now referring to this as “Workchoices Mark II”.
Due to the recent polls showing the lack of support for the Tony Abbott and its own internal problems, the Federal Government has sought to placate the electorate by suggesting penalty rates and minimum wage will not be adjusted.
Unfortunately their track record doesn’t support this and when they consider the time is right the issues will be back on the table.
The Victorian Andrew’s Government in response has provided a submission to the Commission suggesting that up to one third of many Victorians wages could be cut through the abolition of penalty rates.
The Victorian Government is seeking the Federal Government provide greater assurances that entitlements will be protected.
Whilst he ACTU and the ASU are both making submissions on behalf of members, we are seeking stories from members as to the problems they face in regards to any of the dot point issues identified above especially those that go to the problems that would be encountered by removing the award minimum wage or penalty payments.
The ACTU has sent out a flyer to all unions requesting membership input. See the attached flyer for more details