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Swan lauds "family friendly" Workplace Relations Act.



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THE HON KEVIN ANDREWS MP

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS MINISTER ASSISTING THE PRIME MINISTER FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE

Media Release

KA5504

Swan lauds “Family Friendly” Workplace Relations Act

Labor’s Family and Community Services spokesman, Wayne Swan, has lauded the Workplace Relations Act as “family friendly” in an interview with Workers Online.

Asked about limits on overtime work, Swan replied:

“Well, I think that’s got to be a genuine choice for people and that’s something they’ve got to have the capacity to make a choice. People have to be able to be in a position to choose whether they want to work longer or shorter and that is where we need flexibility in the system. For example, I mean if you look at the Enterprise Bargain at Walter Construction, basically the blokes opted not to work Saturdays and what Walter Construction actually found was that their productivity went up and what the blokes actually found was that they enjoyed being home on Saturdays and taking the kids fishing. That’s a very good example of family friendly workplaces being negotiated at the Enterprise level or the industry level.”

Mr Swan, in one paragraph, has undermined Labor’s attack on the Australian Government’s family friendly WRA.

He has also exposed the flaws in Labor’s own IR platform which overturns the flexibility of the WRA with a rigid ‘one size fits all’ model focused on a “comprehensive award” system and industry wide pattern deals at the expense of workplace negotiations.

It is only at the workplace that workers’ needs can be tailored to suit their employment and family needs, as Mr Swan observed. He also rightly stated that family friendly workplaces require “genuine choice” and “flexibility” which is what the WRA delivers. Under the Act:

● 81 per cent of agreements contain at least one work and family provision such as flexible working hours to

care for children or parents and part time work; and, ● 46 per cent of agreements have two or more work and family provisions.

Ninety per cent of employees are covered by federal certified agreements with at least one work and family provision. Mr Swan also found that “productivity went up” with these provisions.

Labour productivity has increased an average of 2.3 per cent since the Government came to office in 1996 - because of the choice and flexibility offered by the Workplace Relations Act.

The very Act Mark Latham and his shadow spokesman, Craig Emerson, want to overthrow.

For further information contact:

Felicity Dargan Press Secretary 0409 550 446

8/03/2004