Sunday, 21 December 2014

The War On Workers: and so it begins again.....

The second front forms in the ongoing Liberal-Nationals ideological war against ordinary workers and their families.

I, Joseph Benedict Hockey, Treasurer, pursuant to Parts 2 and 3 of the Productivity Commission Act 1998, hereby request that the Productivity Commission undertake an inquiry into the workplace relations framework…..

The Productivity Commission will assess the performance of the workplace relations framework, including the Fair Work Act 2009, focussing on key social and economic indicators important to the wellbeing, productivity and competitiveness of Australia and its people. A key consideration will be the capacity for the workplace relations framework to adapt over the longer term to issues arising due to structural adjustments and changes in the global economy.

In particular, the review will assess the impact of the workplace relations framework on matters including:
unemployment, underemployment and job creation
fair and equitable pay and conditions for employees, including the maintenance of a relevant safety net small businesses productivity, competitiveness and business investment
the ability of business and the labour market to respond appropriately to changing economic conditions
patterns of engagement in the labour market
the ability for employers to flexibly manage and engage with their employees
barriers to bargaining
red tape and the compliance burden for employers
industrial conflict and days lost due to industrial action
appropriate scope for independent contracting.

Rather oddly, at present only one commissioner is listed as participating in this inquiry, Chairman Peter Harris. There is silence on who among the other eleven commissioners/
associate commissioners may also be participating.

There is also no opening or closing dates for submissions listed and no hearing dates decided as yet.

The Productivity Commission does invite organisations to register their interest here and people to make brief comment here.

One has to wonder why there was such a mad scramble to so scrappily start this process just before Christmas this year, when the reporting date is not expected before November 2015.

The reaction from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry was predictable - it sees the Fair Work Commission's current review of the Fair Work Act and this inquiry as providing the opportunity to fix “major flaws” such as too high penalty rates.

Co-incidentally, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) Freedoms Inquiry released its first consultation document this month,Traditional Rights and Freedoms—Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws (IP 46). Part of that inquiry's terms of reference include laws relating to workplace relations.

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