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Labour flexibility, not more compromise is needed



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JOHN SHARP MEDIA RELEASE

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GILMORE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SHIPPING AND WATERFRONT REFORM

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA: Tel 06 277 4213, Fax 06 277 2124

I AROIJR FLEXIBILITY, NOT MORE COMPROMISE. IS NEEDED

The latest "compromise" solution in the waterfront reform process offered by the Industrial Relations Commission in its decision on the dismantling of the $60 million-plus stevedoring industry long-service leave etc. fund is typical of the reform program under the Labor Government. It simply hands to the unions another veto.

It gives the needs of the users of the waterfront a back-seat to the interests of the unions. The Australian waterfront is the home of "compromise" - or, in other words, subjugation of the needs of the users to the demands of the unions.

This decision is just one more impediment to liberalisation of the waterfront labour market. Liberalisation is essential for genuine and lasting reform. It must also be undertaken without delay. The waterfront reform program could have been achieved within six months if the required structural changes had been undertaken immediately

and without "compromise".

For the Industrial Relations Commission to make the dismantling of the levy-raised funds which have propped up the union-based labour monopoly on the waterfront conditional on Waterside Workers' Federation agreement on a company-by-company basis is naive in the extreme. The WWF has made it quite clear that it will resist to the last

dismantling of the funds. The IRC "compromise" just gives them the means to do so.

Notwithstanding the provision that the union must not withhold its consent "unreasonably", the IRC has handed the WWF another veto over the reform process.

The residual industry-wide funds must be terminated definitively and promptly if enterprise employment is to have any meaning at all. Enterprises must accept their commercial responsibilities - and employees must accept their responsibility for the viability of the enterprise. The industry-wide funds enable both to evade those

responsibilities, to the cost of waterfront efficiency and the users.

There is only one sensible resolution - that put forward by the Association of Employees of Waterside Labour for individual companies to be able to withdraw from the funds and to meet their liabilities from their own resources, in line with standard commercial practice.

The only way lasting reform can be achieved on the waterfront is through the normalisation of labour conditions. Continuation of the industry-based funds are a major barrier to that, and the IRC determination has further compromised waterfront reform.

Ends...........WR16/92

20-3-92

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