Fair Work Act Review fails to deliver essential productivity reforms
CCIQ (The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland) is disappointed by the review of the Federal Government’s Fair Work Act 2009 - ‘Towards More Productive and Equitable Workplaces’, which has failed to address the core areas of changed proposed by CCIQ on behalf of Queensland employers.
CCIQ will continue to advocate in the strongest possible terms for an industrial relations framework that meets the needs of contemporary Queensland workplaces and provides an appropriate balance between employers and employees.
Queensland business owners have long raised concerns regarding the current inequity in the nation’s industrial relations framework, which is seen to overwhelmingly favour employees and unions, and create an expensive, inflexible and in many cases unworkable operating environment for employers.
The review’s key conclusions, that the Fair Work regime has not had a negative impact on productivity and delivers sufficient flexibility to employers without decreased competitiveness or cost increases, will come as a major blow to employers and flies in the face of reality.
The report contains over 50 recommendations, but few, even if endorsed by the Federal Government, will provide any significant relief to employers, and many will worsen things for businesses struggling with excessive union intervention and higher labour costs.
While business will work to make the small improvements that stem from the recommendations, they are wholly inadequate in light of the major areas of change sought by CCIQ.
The panel takes a ‘wait and see’ approach with respect to productivity, while suggesting other peripheral or technical changes. However, Queensland employers can no longer afford to ‘wait and see’.
In particular, there is nothing in the report that will provide any succour for small business: no meaningful changes to flexibility arrangements or the provisions on unfair dismissal and general protections claims, and no recommendations that would ensure wage-superannuation trade-offs to pay for the increased mandatory superannuation guarantee.
Today, we have seen yet another example of the reasonable calls for change from employers going unheeded.
CCIQ, however, is listening. In the near future, we will release our Industrial Relations Blueprint, which will map out the vision that we share with Queensland employers for a productive, sustainable and competitive workplace relations in Queensland and Australia as a whole.
We will call on both sides of politics prior to the next Federal Election to make strong commitments to revamp the current system to ensure it ensures that Australian businesses remain competitive in both the domestic and international market places.
CCIQ now awaits the Federal Government’s response to the review’s recommendations. We urge the Federal Government in the strongest possible terms to make changes beyond those recommended by its panel. Failure to act will result in a continuing deterioration in productivity for Australian workplaces.