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Minister attacks Opposition waterfront criticism



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i ftfr Bob Collins ... Minister for Shipping and Aviation Support

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24 January 1991

M IN IS T E R ATTACKS OPPOSITION WATERFRONT C R IT IC IS M

The Victorian Opposition has joined its Federal counterpart in a public display of ignorance of the waterfront reform process, Federal Minister for Shipping and Aviation Support, Senator Bob Collins said today.

Senator Collins was commenting on calls by the Victorian Opposition Spokesman for Ports and Roads, Mr Bill Baxter, for a compulsory redundancy scheme to be incorporated in the Government's waterfront reform program.

Senator Collins pointed out the voluntary scheme now being pursued by the Federal Government is part of a comprehensive reform strategy based upon the recommendations of the 1989 Inter-State Commission Waterfront Report.

'The Opposition Parties praised this report but now attack the reform measures which are being implemented on the basis of its recommendations,' Senator Collins said.

Reform of port authority operations is being pursued in consultation with State and Territory Governments.

Key features of the program for stevedoring reform include:

. rejuvenation of the stevedoring workforce by the retirement of 3,000 lower-skilled, older employees and recruitment of 1,000 better trained, younger workers,

. replacement of inefficient industry-wide arrangements with company-based employment by the negotiation of enterprise agreements between individual companies and the stevedoring unions,

. improved training programs and award restructuring to develop skills-related career paths.

’Mr Baxter's call for compulsory redundancy for stevedoring employees ignored the Inter-State Commission's finding that reduction of job security for existing employees was inequitable,' Senator Collins said.

This employment condition has operated by agreement between the stevedoring industry parties since 1972.

Senator Collins noted that Mr Baxter supported enterprise agreements which are currently being negotiated by stevedoring companies.

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'The Waterfront Industry Reform Authority recently approved the enterprise agreement negotiated by National Terminals (Australia) Limited. It will produce a 34 per cent reduction (some 460 employees) in the company's workforce.'

'Statements by Mr Baxter on the Conaust enterprise agreement are also unfounded,' Senator Collins said .

The Government does not have a direct role in negotiation of enterprise agreements but established the Waterfront Industry Reform Authority to ensure Government productivity targets are met.

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