Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 5 May 1987
Page: 2298

Senator CHANEY —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. It follows the earlier answer he gave in which he gave his views on the pay claims of public servants and the Australian Capital Territory doctors. I refer the Minister to today's reports that unions and employers have reached agreement on a pay rise, which could be up to $52 a week, for 200,000 building workers. I ask: Is the Government aware of the details of the reported settlement and, in particular, whether it includes agreement to the claim by unions for a $20 a week severance pay loading? Is the Government confident that the agreement conforms to the new wage fixing guidelines which the Minister has talked a lot about in recent Question Times? I note, for example, that work practice changes apparently have yet to be agreed on. Is the Government confident that the pay claim can be contained within the building industry? I further ask: Is there any concern about the role of the Victorian Government and the Victorian Minister for Labour, Mr Crabb, in particular, in view of his support of a settlement in Victoria which is seen as having paved the way for yesterday's decision?

Senator WALSH —As I understand it, the key features of the proposition are that the first tier involves a $10 a week increase backdated to March, plus whatever figure is determined at the national wage case later this year. For the second tier, State by State working parties have been set up to look at offsets. Nothing has yet been determined as to quantum, date of effect or other matters. When the working parties have done their job the agreement will be put before the tribunals. On the question of redundancy, a case is to go to the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and a working party has been set up to examine all relevant issues. So far as the Government's reaction to that is concerned, it welcomes the claim going to the Commission to be processed according to the principles. It expects that the offsets must be genuine. The Government will determine its position on redundancy when it sees what the building workers and employers are proposing. Of course it welcomes the news that bans are about to be lifted by the building workers union.

We would also welcome the lifting by the Australian Capital Territory doctors union of the work ban which it has had in place for the last six weeks in its pursuit of what was originally a $430 a week claim, now modified to $350 a week, for a pay increase for the part time services which its members perform for the Australian Capital Territory Health Commission. The building workers union had a total claim of around $52 a week for a full time job. The Australian Capital Territory doctors union has a current claim of $350 a week for a part time job. Both were pursuing their claims with industrial action and, specifically, the imposition of work bans.

Senator Elstob —Disgraceful!

Senator WALSH —It is absolutely disgraceful. If the Government were to capitulate to the greedy, militant Australian Capital Territory doctors union, which is going for a pay grab of $350 a week for a part time job with an industrial campaign based on work bans, we would have absolutely no moral authority to deal with the building workers union, the plumbers union or any other union which used industrial campaigns or imposed work bans in pursuit of pay claims which are, by the standards of the Australian Capital Territory doctors union, extremely modest. Once again, I invite the Opposition to adopt the same even-handed approach to these matters as the Government adopts.