Labor government may remove ‘red tape’ in collective bargaining rules in bid to lift wages

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Workplace relations minister, Tony Burke, has hinted Labor whitethorn region “red tape” that discourages multi-employer corporate bargaining arsenic portion of concern relations reforms designed to lift wages.

On Monday, Burke each but confirmed the Albanese authorities volition drastically restrict employers’ ability to terminate wage deals aboriginal successful a code to the Australian Industry Group.

The comments astir reddish portion suggest that though Labor has not agreed to national demands for industry-level bargaining, it whitethorn look to promote broader corporate bargaining beyond abstracted wage deals for each employer, arsenic the rules mostly require.

Burke is starring the workplace relations betterment radical of the government’s jobs and skills acme successful aboriginal September. Increases to productivity and workers’ wages, languishing down runaway ostentation are astatine the apical of the agenda.

In his speech, Burke said the authorities wants theFair Work Commission to facilitate bargaining and assistance parties marque agreements”.

“We privation bargaining to hap successful bully religion – and we peculiarly privation to marque definite the bargaining strategy works for tiny concern and for women,” helium said.

Asked however Labor aims to execute this, Burke told reporters successful Canberra helium is looking to slash “red tape”.

“Sometimes you tin get a concern wherever the leader and the workers hold and the reddish portion successful the strategy blows the full happening up,” helium said.

Burke nominated clip periods for wage woody bargaining processes and a regularisation connected associated bargaining crossed antithetic employersas examples.

“I’ve had [instances] wherever employers person to travel and question my idiosyncratic support arsenic to whether they’re allowed to bargain together,” helium said.

“Ultimately if an leader and their workforce agree, and the national agrees, and radical are going forwards successful their wages, past wherefore would we privation to basal successful the mode of that?”

The comments are an evident notation to the section of the Fair Work Act that requires the curate to hold that employers whitethorn bargain unneurotic for a projected wage deal. An alternate process allowing the committee to hold to aggregate employers being covered by the aforesaid wage woody would beryllium a measurement successful the absorption of signifier bargaining, successful which unions marque identical wage demands of employers successful the aforesaid industry.

Labor’s 2021 level promised to “improve entree to corporate bargaining, including wherever due done multi-employer corporate bargaining”, but it did not hold to unions’ demands for industry-level bargaining.

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Earlier successful August, Steven Amendola, a elder concern relations practitioner told a seminar organised by his instrumentality steadfast Kingston Reid that the “only way” endeavor bargaining could assistance wages is if it is “broad-based manufacture oregon assemblage bargaining”, suggesting Labor whitethorn beryllium forced to revisit the idea.

Amendola cited deals struck successful the operation sector, wherever the CFMEU negotiates for “pattern agreements”, that person “strong” presumption and conditions for employees.

The caput of workplace relations astatine Australian Industry Group, Stephen Smith, said it had fought “tooth and nail” against manufacture level bargaining and would bash truthful again if Labor were “foolish” capable to effort it.

Earlier, successful the speech, Burke said helium was “increasingly acrophobic astir … the quality of employers to marque cuts to workers’ wage and conditions by unilaterally terminating” workplace wage deals, which pushes employees backmost connected to the grant minimum.

Burke said the contented would beryllium discussed astatine the acme but his “starting point” is “on look value, I cannot spot however this maneuver tin perchance beryllium justified”.

Burke said a “narrow exception” could beryllium made for “exceptional concern distress, wherever termination” could assistance workers’ support their jobs.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions welcomed the pledge to extremity that practice, which caput Sally McManus said should beryllium done “as soon arsenic possible”.

McManus confirmed the ACTU is successful “discussions with authorities and employers” astir multi-employer bargaining, but was not acceptable to state its position.

McManus said it would suggest a “comprehensive” bundle to get wages moving, including to rise the nationalist minimum wage, grant minimums and amended the amended disconnected wide test.