Sunday, 17 January 2016

Conservative ideologues, bankers and employers determined to have their way on wages, unions & industry not-for-profit super funds

Australian unions, the successful not-for-profit super funds they administer and enterprise agreements are all well and truly in the firing line as Australia enters the 2016 election year.

The Australian, 11 January 2016:

A new clash is looming over rules that can ban millions of workers from choosing their own retirement fund as the government tries to increase choice in the $2 trillion superannuation industry.
Despite fears it will be accused of running an “ideological” campaign against funds that are backed by unions, the Coalition will move to scrap a key part of the industrial relations regime that gives unions and employers the right to limit fund choice for up to 4.7 million workers.
The push sets up a new fight in the Senate after parliament resumes within weeks, but armed with a warning from trade union royal commissioner Dyson Heydon against the “tyranny of the majority” being allowed to dictate where workers put their retirement savings, the government will insist that the choice of fund cannot remain a bargaining chip in workplace deals.
Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer will make the issue one of four major changes to the superannuation sector this year in a reform plan that appears certain to deepen the divisions in the fund ­industry while sparking renewed objections from Labor.
Ms O’Dwyer told The Aus­tralian a government analysis indicated that 26 per cent of enterprise bargaining agreements gave workers no choice of super fund and another 5 per cent allowed only limited choice. “We think that everyone should have a choice about where their money goes — after all, it’s their superannuation, it’s their retirement,” she said. “That money should be provided to a fund of their choice.”
At stake is control of tens of billions of dollars that flow into super funds every year from employee pay packets under terms negoti­ated by unions and employers in more than 20,000 enterprise agreements that cover 40 per cent of the nation’s workforce.
The move opens a new front in attempts to overhaul the wider super system after Ms O’Dwyer last month failed to persuade crossbench sen­ators to legislate governance changes that would require all funds to appoint independent directors.
Labor and the unions have claimed the Coalition is seeking to undermine the not-for-profit industry funds set up by employer groups and unions decades ago, and which often have the advantage of being named in EBAs or as the “default” option in industrial awards……

Excerpts from Prime Minster Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, Attorney-General George Brandis and Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash, Joint Media Release - Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption Final Report, 30 December 2015:

Today the Government announces that it will re-introduce legislation to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission in the first sitting week of 2016 and will seek to have it passed by both chambers before the end of March…..

The Government will therefore introduce additional legislation to further strengthen the Registered Organisation Commission [previously rejected by the Senate].

Taskforce Heracles - the existing Federal and State Police Taskforce attached to the Royal Commission - will be funded to continue its work investigating referrals [from the Royal Commission into Union Governance & Corruption].

Seven News, 27 December 2015:

Business groups say a cut to Sunday penalty rates is now inevitable despite a potential backlash at the next federal election.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 December 2015:

National Pharmacies is attempting to cut pharmacists' penalty rates by as much as 50 per cent for certain hours on Saturday shifts. Double-time Sunday rates would remain in place.
The company also wants to lower overtime pay, freeze the wages of existing pharmacists and introduce a two-tiered pay scheme that would slash the wages of new employees, according to the union.
The union, Professional Pharmacists Australia, estimates the proposed cuts could trim new pharmacists' pay cheques by up to $10,000 a year…..
"The company is disappointed that enterprise agreement negotiations have failed to reach agreement,….

Liberal Party member & IPA Deputy Executive Director James Paterson appearing on Sky News on18 December 2015:

As to be expected, far-right Institute of Public Affairs' propaganda deliberately forgets to mention that 87.6 per cent of public servants have a base salary which is less than $80k, as well as failing to mention that almost half of all public servants receive an employer superannuation contribution below the 15.4 per cent quoted by Paterson. See Australian Public Service Commission's 2014 remuneration survey.

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