The day after the Coalition released its’ workplace relations policy, including to keep the Fair Work Act more or less in tact, Matt Cowgill from the ACTU has done some great analysis of opposition to, and results of, the Fair Work Act. Most fascinating for me was the graph of the “Days lost to industrial disputes” since 1987… it’s a very different world we live in today, regardless of whether the coalition or Labor are in government.
For those that are interested, the coalition’s workplace relations policy can be found here. The main points of interest to me are:
- Keeping and improving the Fair Work Act, including a concession that the laws are relatively new, and there are some good outcomes;
- Addressing workplace bullying (actually this point is just accepting Labor’s proposed changes, but adding the condition that employees have sought “help and impartial advice from an independent regulatory agency”, and extending it to bullying by unions, not just employers);
- A paid parental leave scheme with 6 months’ leave at full pay including super;
- Ensuring that officials from registered organisations such as unions are held to the same level of accountability as company directors, with specific reference to the HSU and AWU scandals (surprising Craig Thompson wasn’t named in person, given this is a coalition document); and
- Guaranteeing flexible work arrangements can’t be restricted by unions, and can be agreed between employees and employers (this seems like a no-brainer)
It seems that the Fair Work Act is here to stay for the time being – I suspect neither of the major parties want to fight yet another election on industrial relations issues. Ultimately, this is good news for employers – every time a major proposal to IR is made an election issue, it imposes risk that slows down new projects and investment.