Missed opportunity in Senate for Australian workers

Business Council of Australia

Today the Senate missed an opportunity to save the enterprise bargaining system in a betrayal of Australian workers, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“By failing to make these important changes to the workplace relations system, particularly the EBA system, Australia has been condemned to the slow lane and Australian workers condemned to lower wages,” Ms Westacott said.

“The reforms were very modest, but they would have revitalised the EBA system, which now faces a slow and painful death.

“This is the system that pays workers more.

“The number of new enterprise agreements has fallen 63 per cent since 2008. This is a disaster because on average, workers on EBAs are $100 better off a day than those on awards.

“It beggars belief that the Labor Party, which established the EBA system during the Hawke/Keating era, have walked away from Australian workers.

“The union movement has also let its members down because they know the current system doesn’t work for modern workers and it doesn’t work for modern businesses.

“One positive has been the agreement on a proper definition of casual workers creating more certainty for workers and their employers.

“But we had an opportunity in the Senate today to create a future that would have delivered more and higher paying jobs, new industries and greater opportunities.

“Fearing that others will campaign against you is not a good enough reason to fail to act in the national interest.

“We are now left with a system that means workers miss out on pay rises because it forces people to give up, walk away and fall back on lower paid awards.

“We thank the Government and One Nation for their efforts to get important reforms through and encourage them to continue pursing reforms to the EBA system.

“We also encourage them to pursue reforms in greenfields agreements so that Australia can attract the big projects and the jobs that come with it.

“Without change we’ll be left with a system that is complex, rigid and doesn’t reflect modern workers and a modern economy.”

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