||Issue No. 286||21 October 2005|
Lord of the Lobster Legs
Interview: Under Fire
Politics: And the Winners Are ...
Economics: The Common Wealth
History: Walking for Justice
International: Deja Vu
Legal: The Rights Stuff
Review: That Cinderella Fella
Poetry: Is Howard Kidding?
The Locker Room
Thus Spake Sydney Uni
Vote 1 Dictator
Buying peace Of Mind
Rev Kev Speaks
The Munro Doctrine
In a speech to the Western Australian Industrial Relations Society, the Honorable Paul Munro, said the Howard Government was wrong to call the changes 'reforms' and suggested that the changes are, in fact, "regressive" and "counter-revolutionary in character" because they are "driven by market ideology".
"This is certainly the biggest shakeup in workplace relations since Stanley Melbourne Bruce tried to abolish the industrial relations commission back in 1927," Mr Munro said, "And he lost his seat as a result."
"These changes take us back to a freer labor market that existed at the end of the 19th century when unionists on strike could be - and indeed, were - jailed," he said.
By substituting the Australian Fair Pay Commission for the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, along with other measures in the new Workplace Relations System, the Government will effectively eliminate the safety net.
"In the past workers have been able to collectively bargain above the safety net and were unable to go below it," he said, "because these minimum conditions were set by an independent third party."
"Now minimum conditions will be set by the Fair Pay Commission which is a creature of executive government. This commission won't be on the job until late next year when it will probably offer a small increase to save the Government's bacon," he said.
Mr Munro suggested that it won't just be the wages of the unskilled that will be eroded over time as the changes take affect, "there are plenty of skilled trades people whose pay rates are award related."
"It's an appalling scenario, in one sense," Mr Munro said, referring to what he called a "simplistic defensive ploy" made by John Howard who said that "Fairness begins with a job".
"I feel a great sympathy for those who work on plug-in rates on penalties, some throughout the night stacking shelves," he said, "where once they were paid six hours pay for three hours of difficult work now they will only be paid for three hours. It's taking money out of their mouths."
Mr Munro said the changes will also put pressure on employers who want to maintain a stable workforce and look after the good workers they have.
"Many of these will lose contracts as the market gets tighter and they are under pressure against someone who uses labor hire as a rival and underbids," he said.
For some employers, Mr Munro said, maintaining a high quality workforce will be difficult, "it will serve them well to keep a good relationship with their employees."
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