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Friday, 20 February 1987
Page: 405

(Question No. 1460)

Senator Hamer asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 23 October 1986:

(1) What restrictive work practices are in force at the Guided Weapons and Electronic Support Facility, which, in the opinion of management, reduce productivity without any compensatory safety or industrial health benefits.

(2) What restrictive work practices in force at the Guided Weapons and Electronic Support Facility, 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) and (2) In many establishments of the Office of Defence Production there are a number of work practices which Central Office and local management believe are restrictive and cannot be justified on operational safety and health or other grounds.

Many of these work practices have come about over long periods and do not take account of the impact of changes in equipments or the skill base now provided to many trades.

Work practices in question include demarcation of responsibilty for work; use of tools by ``white collar'' staff; retention of high manning levels; overtime practices which are excessively costly; timekeeping methods; restrictions on contracting-out, temporary employment of staff or use of sub-contractors for short term peaks in workload; and restrictions on multiple machine operation.

Unions and staff associations do not necessarily share the views of management on the classification of such practices as being `restrictive' and requiring change.

Following the initiatives of the Prime Minister, the ACTU and Employer Federations to discuss restrictive work practices, the ACTU and Departmental officers have agreed to discuss the nature and extent of restrictive work practices and the potential for change. These discussions are to take place early in 1987.

(3) Most practices of a restrictive kind are long standing.

(4) Some changes have been agreed during the year, particularly at Garden Island Dockyard and Williamstown Dockyard.

(5) Due to the nature and variety of work practices being addressed costings have not been made.