War of words

Though ALP is currently framing up a ‘less offensive’ policy, R&CA is hoping WorkChoices remains intact.

The pre-election fight has now settled into an industrial relations battle. The ALP retains it rage on AWAs and says it will rip up these individual agreements. On the other hand, the government is committed to the growth of AWAs and wants more work on best practice agreements. Agreements are becoming more and more innovative with the generous incentives schemes, allowances, leave provision and bonuses being built into the terms of the AWA. This is not surprising in a market where the demand for employees well exceeds supply.

At the same time, of course, employers have a limited capacity to pay higher wages without productivity benefits. This ‘reward for effort’ regime is just what WorkChoices is about.

On the battleground of unfair dismissal, the lines appear to be somewhat wrongly drawn. It is not so much about unfair dismissal as fair dismissal. What is really an issue is the larger number of vexatious claims that the previous unfair dismissal regime facilitated.

The removal of unfair dismissal action rights (and the retention of unlawful dismissal) was partly about stopping employers being subject to action by fairly dismissed employees. The ALP’s plans to extend the probationary period to 12 months, for businesses employing less that 15 people, would not stop this sort of action. ‘Go- away money’ would again be a feature of the employment landscape. Taken together these two conditions could be a recipe for a considerable burden on our businesses in particular.

Con Castrisos
President, Restaurant & Catering  Australia

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