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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 19

(Question No. 1420)


Senator Hamer asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 10 October 1986:

(1) What restrictive work practices are in force at Garden Island Dock Yard which, in the opinion of management, reduce productivity without any compensatory safety or industrial health benefits.

(2) What restrictive work practices are in force at Garden Island Dock Yard, while having some safety or industrial health benefits, are done in such a way that comparable benefits could be achieved with less loss of productivity.

(3) What new restrictive work practices, of the type noted above, have come into force in the last year.

(4) What restrictive work practices, of the type noted above, have been eliminated in the past year and what have been the benefits to productivity in each case.

(5) Has the management advised the Minister for Defence of the total annual cost of these restrictive work practices; if so, what is the total annual cost of these restrictive work practices.


Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) to (5) On 21 March 1986, the Minister for Defence announced the need for restructuring to take place at Garden Island Dockyard, Williamstown Dockyard and the Government Aircraft Factories.

Following extensive consultation with Unions and Associations covering employees at the dockyards and the aircraft factories, a total of some 800 personnel from the three establishments were voluntarily retrenched and approximately 350 additional employees left by natural attrition and redeployment elsewhere.

A key element in the restructuring was the need to change a number of work practices which were having an adverse effect on efficient production.

In order to maintain production following the reductions, a range of work practice changes were implemented immediately while discussions commenced with unions and associations aimed at introducing other changes which, in the longer term, would result in more efficient work processes.

At Garden Island Dockyard, some 40 work practices that required elimination, modification or introduction were identified and addressed during and after restructuring. Some of these involved occupational safety and health considerations but the majority, however, did not.

Since March 1986, some 24 of the identified work practices have been fully implemented while substantial progress has been made towards implementation of many of the remainder. Due to technical and arbitral procedural restraints, changes to some of the outstanding practices may take up to two years to be fully implemented.

Garden Island Dockyard is committed to achieving a productivity improvement of 20 per cent in its major repair and refitting tasks over the next twelve months. Progress thus far in implementation of changes to work practices has been significant, indicating that improvement of this order will be achieved. This is a reflection of the co-operative attitude of the unions and associations towards achievement of changes.

Due to the nature and variety of the work practices being addressed, costings as sought by the honourable senator in his question have not been undertaken.