Industrial relations bill still puts jobs and business at risk

The government and Senator David Pocock have today announced an agreement designed to facilitate the passage of the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill, including multi-employer bargaining.

Unfortunately, this Bill still puts Australian jobs and businesses at risk. It is fundamentally flawed and simply cannot be improved through the amendments that are now proposed. In our view it is not fit for passage.

We appreciate the efforts of Senator David Pocock to ameliorate the negative outcomes for small business and his support for many of the Chamber’s proposed amendments to the Bill.

He has consulted in good faith with the business community, and we welcome his practical changes including partially addressing the union veto, extending the bargaining grace period, supporting conciliation for working arrangements, and the introduction of a new reasonable comparability threshold to the common interest test.

The outcome, however, remains a Bill which is overwhelmingly inimical to the interests of business and the Australian economy:

  • The costs to business in grappling with this complex system will be significant.
  • Small businesses with over 20 employees can still be forced to adopt workplace arrangements and pay rates that they had no role in negotiating.
  • Competitors can still be forced to bargain together.
  • Employers and employees who both want to negotiate their own enterprise agreement will still have no avenue to exit an ill-suited, one-sized-fits-all multi-employer regulation.

Quotes attributed to ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar:

“The Bill, as it stands, will do nothing to achieve the aim of increasing wages, and will only add cost and complexity to Australian businesses at a time when they are dealing with deteriorating conditions.

“Ultimately, this Bill represents a fundamental de-linkage of wages with productivity and will detract from the flexibility and dynamism required by modern economies.

“We remain of the view that this Bill is not fit for passage.

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