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Friday, 9 December 1983
Page: 3607

Senator ZAKHAROV —Can the Minister for Veterans' Affairs provide to the Senate a summary of the implications for his Department of the recently ratified 38-hour week agreement covering employees of the Department of Veterans' Affairs in repatriation general hospitals and elsewhere?

Senator GIETZELT —Following some exhaustive negotiations the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission ratified, on 6 December, a 38-hour week agreement between the Department, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Royal Australian Nursing Federation, the Hospital Employees Federation of Australia, the Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia and a number of other industrial organisations. The agreement provides for a 38-hour week for all departmental employees in hospitals who presently work a 40-hour week to take effect from 5 December last. The nature of the agreement covers the majority of the departmental workers who formerly worked a 40-hour week. The recruitment of additional staff will commence from 1 March 1984. This will assist in reducing the cost impact in the current financial year. To further minimise the cost impact a range of cost offsets amounting to $2.35m for the full year was negotiated as part of the agreement.

I would like to place on the public record the degree of co-operation by the ACTU, the unions and the staff who assisted the Department in the reduction of costs involved. I pay tribute to those involved for the co-operation that was afforded in the negotiations. It is an indication of the Government's attitude to industrial relations-co-operation rather than confrontation.

Sitting suspended from 12.59 to 2 p.m.