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New workplace legislation will limit pattern bargaining; opposition criticises new industrial legislation.

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Govt moves to outlaw pattern bargaining  


AM - Friday, May 12, 2000 8:24  


COMPERE: Workplace Relations Minister, Peter Reith, has introduced amendments to the Workplace Relations Act into Federal Parliament. So far most of the focus has been on moves to outlaw so-called pattern bargaining, but as Damien Carrick reports, the amendments also contain other controversial measures as well. 


DAMIEN CARRICK: Pattern bargaining is where unions and occasionally employers seek common wage or condition outcomes across an industry. And Workplace Relations Minister, Peter Reith, says in the age of enterprise bargaining, pattern bargaining is an industrial relations dinosaur. 


PETER REITH: We have provided in this bill for the Industrial Relations Commission, as the umpire, to have a new power to prevent industrial action which is taken in pursuit of pattern bargaining. We've done this because the prospect of claims, for example, in the manufacturing industry in Victoria and elsewhere suggests that the unions are attempting to break down the system of enterprise bargaining and move to industry-wide outcomes. 


The problem with industry-wide industrial action is that it holds out the prospect of having industry-wide approaches to terms and conditions denying businesses the capacity to have terms and conditions to suit what they're trying to do. 


DAMIEN CARRICK: Peter Reith is keen to point out that the bill isn't just about pattern bargaining. 


PETER REITH: The bill also gives the Commission a new power to order a cooling off period which we think is very civil. It also tightens up the rights and powers of the Commission to require people to return to work and it preserves the right of parties to go to the State Supreme Courts to exercise their common law rights. 


DAMIEN CARRICK: The Democrats haven't yet decided whether they support the amendments, and have referred the bill to a Senate Committee which will report back on 5th June. But the Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Arch Bevis, says the ALP opposes the bill and not just because of pattern bargaining. 


ARCH BEVIS: I've got to say there's another aspect to this bill which Peter Reith has hidden away which is that he's planning to restrict the rights of parties to go to the Federal Court in some matters. And we all know Peter Reith and this government have had a very bad run with the Federal Court; a number of very high profile cases where the Federal Court has said this government has behaved badly. It seems that Peter Reith is continuing with his campaign to try and remove the Federal Court from being able to scrutinise what goes on in industrial relations. 


COMPERE: The Shadow Industrial Relations Minister, Arch Bevis.