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Wednesday, 21 August 1996
Page: 2743

To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:

We the undersigned citizens respectfully submit that any reform to Australia's system of industrial relations should recognise the special needs of employees to be protected from disadvantage, exploitation and discrimination in the workplace.

We the petitioners oppose the Coalition policies which represent a fundamentally anti-worker regime and we call upon the Senate to provide an effective check and balance to the Coalition's legislative program by rejecting such a program and ensuring that:

1.   The existing powers of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) be maintained to provide for an effective independent umpire overseeing awards and workplace bargaining processes.

2.   The proposed system of Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) should be subject to the same system of approval required for the approval of certified agreements (through enterprise bargaining). Specifically, an AWA should not come into effect unless it is approved by the AIRC.

3.   The approval of agreements contained in the legislation should be public and open to scrutiny. There should be provision for the involvement of parties who have a material concern relating to the approval of an agreement, including unions seeking to maintain the no disadvantage guarantees.

4.   Paid rates awards be preserved and capable of adjustment, as is currently the case in the legislation.

5.   The AIRC's powers to arbitrate and make awards must be preserved in the existing form and not be restricted to a stripped back set of minimum or core conditions.

6.   The legislation should encourage the processes of collective bargaining and ensure that a certified agreement within its term of operation cannot be over-ridden by a subsequent AWA.

7.   The secondary boycott provisions should be preserved in their existing form.

8.   The powers and responsibility of the AIRC to ensure the principle of equal pay for work of equal value should be preserved in its existing form. We oppose any attempt by the Coalition to restrict the AIRC from dealing with overaward gender based pay equity issues.

9.   A `fair go all round' for unfair dismissal so that all workers currently able to access these remedies are able to do so in a fair manner, at no cost.

10.   Workers under state industrial regulations maintain their rights to access the federal awards system in its current form.

Your petitioners therefore urge the Senate to reject the above proposed reforms to the area of industrial relations.

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