Posts Tagged ‘industrial relations’


This week’s major activity for Admiral Nelson and the media – documenting how many standards Rudd has had public servants breach (assuming the Iguanagate saga goes away at some point).

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John Howard helps to deliver a campaign message for Labor:

“If we win on Saturday then the reforms that we have brought about will never be reversed by a future federal Labor government,” he said.

“They will become part of the furniture. They will become so embedded in our business and workplace culture that no future Labor government would be able to reverse them.”

Who ever said he was a lying bastard? It turns out he’s just a bastard.

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The Honest Monk

Tony Abbott earns some credibility points:

“I accept that certain protections, in inverted commas, are not what they were,” he says in the video, broadcast on ABC TV.

“I accept that has largely gone. I accept that.

“I accept that the industrial relations commission doesn’t have the same power to reach into the nook and cranny of every business that it used to have.”

His message to the unfairly sacked workers of Australia? Deal with it:

Mr Abbott also told the function that for a sacked worker, finding a new job was better than using unfair dismissal laws to reverse the decision.

“That is the best protection. Not going off to some judge or industrial commission that might order your employer who you don’t like, and he doesn’t like you, and to keep you in an unhappy partnership forever.”

Great advice, Tony. Unless, of course, having been unfairly sacked from a job reduces your chances of finding employment elsewhere – there might be some issues if a prospective new employer wants a reference from your last boss. Plus, there’s the basic principle of people wanting to clear their own record and establish that they were right. Frankly, if I was unfairly sacked I would probably want to fight it and win back the right to my job – at which point, I would probably quit to avoid that “unhappy partnership”.

By the way, Tony, do your opinions that it is best to break off an unhappy partnership apply to marriage as well?

UPDATE: Gandhi has been tracking the saga today, as Abbott appeared on morning TV endorsing his comments, then condemned the video as a “cut-and-paste job”, and then finally released a transcript that supposedly clears things up.

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Failing the test

Around half of the AWAs that have been lodged since the introduction of the fairness test fail to meet its requirements.

Of course, Joe Hockey can keep telling us that this is a sign that the system is working – unfair AWAs are being picked up and rectified. He might even manage to keep a straight face while doing it. But these findings highlight that a lot of employers either (i) don’t understand the requirements or (ii) are trying to circumvent them to the detriment of their employees’ working conditions. And it means that a lot of effort is being wasted in negotiating and evaluating AWAs. This is neither a fair nor efficient system, and it is one that needs to be dismantled.

Of course, Team Howard may have managed to seal its own fate by bringing economic management and industrial relations issues front and centre in the past week. If the final fortnight of the election campaign revives the WorkChoices debate and these are the kind of statistics that are coming out, I can’t see the electorate returning to Honest John. Add to these WorkChoices findings and the interest rate rise the latest warnings about businesses being placed in jeopardy by the current economic conditions, and it is difficult to see how Howard and co. will be able to convince the public at large that they have things under control.

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Big Gun vs Red Julia

The IR czars are holding their National Press Club debate today – 12:30pm EDST on ABC (no indication in my TV guide of Nine/worm coverage). I’ll be in a cave, during that time, so I’ll have to catch up on it later.

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Public sector managers


The federal Department of Employment and Workplace Relations today faces the prospect of being fined by a court for breaching federal industrial law.

Justice Catherine Branson found the department issued prohibited advice leading to Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members being refused leave on the day of an anti-WorkChoices Rally.

She was critical of public sector managers who were obliged to be impartial.

CPSU secretary Stephen Jones hopes to see the Workplace Relations Department penalised.

“When the employer is the Government and the very agency which is responsible for upholding and managing the Workplace Relations Act that is doubly inappropriate,” he said.

Bloody activist judges, imposing the requirements of the law on Joe Hockey’s department.

UPDATE: It’s a $30,000 fine for the Government, to be paid to the CPSU.

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Apparently, 70% of the people who wrote the New South Wales HSC exam questions are former union officials:

Stan Rikhter, of South Sydney High School, said he was surprised to find himself writing about his views on the campaign against unions as part of the Industrial Technology exam.

He said the question, which asked students about “the impact of government legislation on employees”, was neutral, but hard to answer “because we are still kids”.

The federal Minister for Education, Julie Bishop, said it was “another example of Labor and the unions making clumsy attempts at indoctrinating students with left-wing ideologies”.

“It is absolutely inappropriate for a teacher to use the HSC to push personal political agendas,” she said. “Students face enough pressure with these important end-of-school examinations without having to deal with blatant political bias.”

The question in yesterday’s HSC exam asked students to:

Discuss, using examples, the impact of government legislation on employees.

A quick read of the HSC Industrial Technology syllabus [476kB PDF] shows that, in their industry study component, “students learn about” (p. 18):

Environmental and sociological factors
• …
• government legislation
• Environmental Impact Studies (EIS)

Personnel issues
• industrial relations
• entry-level training requirements
• retraining and multiskilling
• unions
• roles of industry personnel
• equity/EEO

Occupational health and safety
• government legislation

and, among other things, learn to (p. 18 again):

• discuss and justify the ramifications of
Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)
and sustainable development when
studying the overall industry
• identify government legislation and
policies that ensure the rights and
protection for employees
• discuss the importance of OH&S
factors in a successful business
• identify significant government
legislation and industry requirements
that ensure a safe working environment

Other components of the syllabus include coverage of local government codes and regulations.

So, apart from the trade unions and industrial relations, students could write about environmental protection laws, training and licensing requirements, EEO, OH&S, and council by-laws. And, even if they had chose industrial law, the question itself is value neutral (e.g., one could argue that WorkChoices gives employees greater freedom to negotiate personally tailored conditions).

Anyone would think Julie Bishop and Team Howard are sensitive to potential criticism of WorkChoices.

ELSEWHERE: Ken Lovell has the prescription for Julie: “go sit in a dark room for six weeks like a good team member and let the team leader talk about tax.”

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Now that the mid-year economic review data has been released, Labor has an up-to-date price tag of the taxpayer-funded propaganda campaigns. Julia Gillard has jumped on the WorkChoices advertising figures ($121 million in total; $66 million since the fairness test):

“$4 million a week each week of this financial year to try and convince Australians who know WorkChoices is bad that it’s good for them,” she said.

“Well they’re not going to be convinced and they’ll be thinking to themselves, what difference could that money have made to my local hospital or my local school?”

Naturally, Big Gun Joe has trotted out the standard talking points in response:

“Kevin Rudd and the union bosses who control over 70 per cent of his frontbench have spent millions of dollars on a massive scare campaign designed to confuse and misinform working families,” he said.

“Therefore we make no apologies for properly informing working Australians about the protections that exist under the workplace relations system.”

I thought Kevin Rudd only spent millions of dollars on beach-houses? Joe not only fails to distinguish between unions funding advertising as opposed to Labor funding it, but he also fails to recognise that he has been spending taxpayers’ money to achieve his political ends. Furthermore, it was that “scare campaign” that prompted the Government to introduce the fairness test – because the facts of the original system were so scary that they had to try to make it seem more palatable. Why, the Big Gun himself admitted that the original system was wrong. So, even if we accept for the moment that the fairness test has fixed things, doesn’t the responsibility for the $66 million of follow-up advertising lie with the Government who got the laws wrong in the first place?

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Rudd and Gillard made a start on bringing WorkChoices into the campaign. It’s been overshadowed by the tax cuts, but was a decent start. However, if I may answer one of Kevin Rudd’s questions (perhaps not in the same way JWH would):

“What is to stop Mr Howard in the future from enforcing WorkChoices on nurses, on police, on emergency service personnel such as ambulance workers and fire fighters, what’s to stop Mr Howard from doing it?” he said.

A Senate without a majority.

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Another smart, sensible column from Mr Megalogenis, the theme of which is:

Beware leaders promising jobs.

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