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Government responsible for damage in metals industry

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164/91 11 June 1991


The Federal Government must be held responsible for whatever damage the present wages campaign causes in the metal trades industry - for the firms which will close and the employees who will lose their jobs.

The Government's failure to condemn the current campaign compounds the mistakes it has made since the National Wage Case decision was handed down - its endorsement of the ACTU's decision to seek Accord Mark VI xin the field and its granting of the $12 a week pay increase to all public servants.

The Coalition firmly believes that across-the-board wage increases in the current disastrous economic climate will just increase unemployment and drive even more businesses to the wall.

The country desperately needs genuine enterprise agreements.

To describe the current campaign to enforce Accord Mark VI in the metals industry as "enterprise bargaining" is chicanery.

We are witnessing the powerful metal unions coercing individual firms to accept an agreement determined by the Government and the ACTU which is intended to become an industry - indeed, an economy - standard.

True enterprise bargaining is based at the individual firm level. It takes place between employees and the management and it gives rise to employment agreements based on common law.

That is the Coalition's policy, and it would be reinforced with voluntary unionism and commitment to ensure that everybody is equal before the law.

An externally determined deal between a government and a peak union council, imposed across industries and the economy by force, is the antithesis of enterprise agreements.

If the Government had not tried to convince the National Wage Bench that the current bout of lawlessness is "enterprise bargaining", the metals industry would not be in its present predicament and the rest of the economy need not feel

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