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The best and fairest workplaces



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MINISTER FOR INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

The Best and Fairest Workplaces

There is a quiet revolution happening in Australia's workplaces. It is based on consultation and cooperation — not the confrontation inherent in Mr Howard's policy released at yesterday's $100-a-head breakfast.

The Government, with the support of unions and business leaders, has been progressively reforming Australia's workplaces.

We have made long-lasting changes to the way Australians work. Changes that will make Australia internationally competitive, and improve our standard of living.

The Opposition would give us a low wage, low skill, high confrontation alternative -— made worst by a GST.

The Government's industrial relations policy encompasses a decade of reform.

Today the Government is releasing Best and Fairest, a document which explains our industrial relations strategy for the next decade.

It is also a stocktaking of the reform program the Government has set itself in its 1988 policy paper, Labour Market Reform: The Industrial Relations Agenda.

The achievements are real and have laid the foundations for a better and more competitive Australia. . .

Our policies have delivered the flexibility that Australian industries need to achieve — and pass — international best practice.

The Government's quiet revolution has delivered

. workplace bargaining, which is creating quality, productivity based agreements

. consistently low industrial disputation, radically changing our industrial relations climate since 1983

. a wages policy that has locked in low inflation, improving our ability to export our 1 products and services .

. a culture growing change, where all Australian realise the value of working together.

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The Opposition would send Australia back to the past, and undo the progress that has been made by working together. Its policies are based on short-sighted, cost-cutting solutions which sees labour as just another cost to be pruned back.

Its 'big bang' Jobsback policy would cut the pay of ordinary Australians and deny people basic conditions.

It would deny Australians a fair go, by forcing harshly treated workers into expensive courtroom battles, having to rely on common law. It would demolish the protection offered to all sides by the Industrial Relations Commission.

The Opposition wants to treat workers in the same way as any commodity market

. the weak would have little protection

. the special needs of women would be ignored ■ ' ,

. young people would be exploited at $3.00/$3.50 per hour

. training and career development would be sacrificed

. superannuation benefits would again be confined to the rich.

Best and Fairest shows real life examples of what can be done and what is being done under our system. ' .

The Coles Supermarket agreement, for example, has allowed 24-hour supermarket trading, with flexible shift arrangements that suit the company, its workers and customers.

Then there is Hendersons Automotive, an Adelaide company which was on the brink of closure just a few years ago. It had poor industrial relations, high absenteeism and low worker morale. But after introducing workplace reform measures — encouraged under our policies — they were able to turn the company into a success story.

Another example is ASTA Components. The former Government Aircraft Factory is now a successful supplier of components to three of the world's biggest civil aircraft manufacturers — Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and Aerospatiale. ASTA, in cooperation with its workforce, has lifted its productivity and quality to make it a success export earner in one of the world's toughest, competitive markets.

Australian workplaces are now dramatically different from what they were ten years ago.

The quiet revolution is happening in an authentic Australian-made way. We do not have to import discredited, 1980s theory from Reagan, Thatcher or New Zealand.

This Australian-made revolution is the way ahead.

BACKGROUNDER TO BEST AMD FAIREST — THE QUIET REVOLUTION IN OUR WORKPLACES

The Government's industrial relations reform program ai.ms to make Australia's workplaces the best 8 fairest

• 'best' so Australia's goods and services can be produced and sold profitably against international competition at home and abroad

• 'fairest' not only to meet our social justice goals but also because failure to respect the values, aspirations and dignity of people ignores a key ingredient in long-lasting and real economic gains.

Best 8 fairest are not separate options. It is not possible to be best without being fair.

This is what the booklet is about.

Best S Fairest sets out the the Government's approach to ,

- achieving lasting workplace reform

- securing real productivity gains

- capitalising on the cooperative effort of people in the workplace.

This will be done through

• - workplace bargaining arrangements that are realistic and transparent to all

- based on the flexible awards system, providing the protections that ensure fairness for employers—big or small—and their employees

- by preserving a key role for the Industrial Relations Commission as an industrial umpire _ .

• active, innovative government programs designed to spread workplace reform and best practice so that

- all those involved in workplace change can have access to the skills . and training they need

- the lessons of international and Australian best practice can be developed and shared amongst Australian enterprises

- workplace reform and best practice can be achieved across all sectors of Australian industry

• raising the value of the work Australians do, and improving the quality and skills of the workforce

- with particular emphasis on skills development and training initiatives

• making the link between fairness and productivity, so that the productive capacity of all Australians at work can be fully developed

- covering a fair deal for women in employment and in workplace bargaining

- ensuring that 'family friendly' employment practices are developed so the needs of workers with family responsibilities can be fully met

- preserving the gains made in superannuation, affirmative action and occupational health and safety

• applying best practice to the Government's own management and activities in its business enterprises, statutory authorities, the Australian Defence Force and the Public Service

- with a push to use workplace bargaining to achieve higher levels of productivity and efficiency in the federal Public Service

Best and Fairest shows

• Australian workplaces are changing

- through a quiet revolution based on consultation and cooperation in an authentic, Australian-made way, but drawing on international best practice

• the scene has been set for these changes, within the Accord framework, with dramatic progress arising from

- the complete overhauling of awards, making them simpler and more flexible for today's conditions and opening new opportunities for multiskilling and improved career paths

- the fundamental changes made in the industrial relations system, providing all the flexibilities needed for workplace bargaining

- the opportunity for enterprises to reach workplace agreements tailored to their needs and creating a constructive climate for productivity gains * to be shared by management, workers and customers

• the features of the workplace culture being developed in Australia

- through case studies and examples of how Australian enterprises - large and small - and their workers are sharing in the real benefits of workplace reform

• the Government's record of reform across the full spectrum of industrial relations issues.