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Independent report card fails government's IR plans.

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Stephen Smith MP Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure and Industrial Relations Member for Perth

62/05 21 June 2005


The release today of the first comprehensive, independent academic Report Card of the Government’s industrial relations changes has completely failed the Government.

The analysis, undertaken by 17 of Australia’s leading academics in industrial relations and convened by Professor Lansbury of the University of Sydney, is a thorough assessment of the adverse impact the Government’s industrial relations changes will have on Australian employees and their working conditions.

Coming barely 10 days before the Howard Government takes control of the Senate, the analysis concludes that the Government’s industrial relations changes:

• Will not improve the fairness of work for most employees and will undermine employees’ rights at work; • Are unlikely to have any direct positive impact on economic productivity or job growth; • Will increase the power of employers to force employees onto individual

contracts by significantly diminishing the independence and choice available to employees; • Will effectively abolish Australia’s safety net of award conditions and minimum wages, leading to greater wage inequality and less protection for low paid

workers; • Will hurt small and medium sized enterprises seeking to attract high quality employees; and • Will adversely affect families by failing to address the work-family balance.

The conclusions drawn together by Professor Lansbury and his academic colleagues go so far as to explicitly state:

The Government’s proposals will:

• Undermine people’s rights at work • Deliver a flexibility that in most cases is one way, favouring employers • Do - at best - nothing to address work-family issues • Have no direct impact on productivity • Disadvantage the individuals and groups already most marginalized in

Australian society.

Today’s comprehensive analysis endorses Labor’s view that the Government’s industrial relations approach is extreme, divisive and unfair.

Under the Government’s extreme approach, the living standards of Australian employees will be slashed.

That’s why the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, and the Minister for Workplace Relations continually refuse to guarantee that individual Australian workers and their families will not be worse off under their proposed industrial relations changes.

As today’s analysis confirms, without a guarantee from the Government that no individual employee will be worse off under the Government’s industrial relations changes, Australian employees and their families have got nothing to look forward other than having their wages reduced, conditions and entitlements slashed, and safety nets removed.

Contact: Courtney Hoogen on (02) 6277 4108 or 0414 364 651