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Opposition to vote against industrial relations bill unless there are major amendments



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4QA

MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR FRED CHANEY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

OPPOSITION TO VOTE AGAINST INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS BILL UNLESS THERE ARE MAJOR AMENDMENTS

The Opposition decided today to seek major amendments to the Industrial Relations Bill introduced by the government and to vote against the Bill if the amendments are not carried.

The Bill is fundamentally defective because it fails to:

. protect the right of workers not to join a trade union and permits the continuation of de facto compulsory unionism through the use of preference clauses and industrial pressure;

. rectify the existing lop-sided nature of the arbitration system and introduce effective compliance provisions which will enable the new Industrial Relations Commission to enforce even-handedly its directions and

decisions so that they bind employers and unions alike;

. promote a union structure aimed at achieving single enterprise bargaining units.

In respect of the last point, the amalgamation and registration provisions are designed to achieve fewer and larger unions but with no likelihood of achieving a better union structure or eliminating or dramatically reducing demarcation disputes.

Statistics make it clear that the bulk of such disputes involve already big unions such as the metal workers and the storemen and packers. ‘ A recent survey of demarcation disputes shows that, of 32, only one involved a small union

likely to be affected by the amalgamation and registration provisions. .

A flexible, enterprise-oriented industrial relations system is fundamental to Australia's economic future. Every ' economic analysis pinpoints the need for a more flexible labour market as being essential for greater economic

growth.

Labor's backdown on compliance is symptomatic of trade union dominance of policy-making. Last year, Mr Willis introduced and touted legislative changes to give some teeth to a system which he admitted had fallen into disrepute and was

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substantially moribund. These have now been dropped under pressure from trade unions and the Minister quite untruthfully blames employers for his own failure of will. The Opposition will move amendments in these and other areas.

The issues relating to trade union structure are complex but we believe the Government's Bill will not bring about a more rational union structure. The Opposition believes these provisions require more examination. Accordingly, we will move for investigation of this part of the legislation by a

Senate Committee.

As an interim measure, we will seek to maintain the existing provisions relating to registration and amalgamation pending proper parliamentary enquiry.

Certainly the government needs to give further consideration to this policy matter before imposing a structure of larger unions.

If the amendments we propose are not successful, we will vote against the Bill on the third reading.

Other amendments include:

. restoring the absolute prohibition on the awarding of strike pay;

. deleting provisions designed to override State legislation regarding industrial action; and

. deleting the requirement that conditions of employment be as far as possible uniform throughout an industry.

CANBERRA 17 May 1988

Contact: Keith Kessell (062) 726380

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