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Tuesday, 22 August 1972
Page: 300

Senator MILLINER asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:

Does the Minister consider that industrial management is sufficiently sensitive to the human problems associated with technological change and whether sufficient initiative is shown in forestalling industrial relations problems that accompany or follow such changes?

Senator WRIGHT - The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The human problems associated with technological change have for some years been a matter of concern to the National Labour Advisory Council - the body through which national representatives of employer organisations, trade unions and the Commonwealth Government consult together on employment, industrial relations and related industrial and economic matters.

In February 1969 the Council issued recommended guidelines for adjusting to technological change. The guidelines set out the matters which need careful consideration by employers, trade unions and Government to ensure that the introduction of technological change is not arbitrary or disruptive for individuals or groups. These guidelines have been of assistance to employers in developing procedures and practices for dealing with the impact on workers of technological change.

The guidelines recommend acceptance of responsibility by employers while planning the introduction of technological innovations:

(a)   To consult with employees through their union officials about, and give as much notice as possible of the contemplated change;

(b)   To provide opportunities for retraining in new skills and techniques for employment in other jobs in the same organisation where this is possible;

(c)   To minimise retrenchment by curtailment of recruitment prior to the introduction of technological change and through normal labour wastage;

(d)   To provide the Commonwealth Employment Service with ample notice of likely disemployment;

(e)   To assist such people affected to find alternative employment.

The Department of Labour and National Service has conducted considerable research into the employment effects of technological change, the industrial relations issues arising from technological change and the practices of management when introducing such changes. The research has shown that practices of a kind recommended in the guidelines are gaining increasing recognition by employers, although there are still employers who are not exercising the initiative referred to in the question.

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