The new independent umpire, Fair Work Australia, should be given the power to axe AWAs that fail to meet Labor’s new better off overall test (BOOT) say unions.
Labor’s proposed new IR laws will give Australian workers strong rights to collectively bargain and re-establish a robust safety net, including the BOOT test to protect workers from employers that try to rip them off.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:
“We welcome Labor’s Fair Work Bill as an important next step towards scrapping Work Choices but are concerned there is a concerted attempt by some in the business community and the Coalition to water down the changes in the Senate.
“There are also areas where the proposed legislation does not go far enough in restoring the rights of workers and establishing a fairer and more efficient IR system.”
The ACTU Executive, which will meet in Melbourne on Tuesday and Wednesday, will consider a number of areas of unfinished business arising out of the Fair Work Bill.
Key elements of the Bill keep faith with the Rudd Government’s commitment to the hundreds of thousands of working people and community members who campaigned under the Your Rights at Work banner for better industrial relations laws.
It will restore unfair dismissal protection for all workers, a safety net of fair minimum wages and conditions, protect union membership, and ensure collective bargaining in good faith.
But there are several areas where working Australians deserve improved rights and protections, including:

  • Where existing Australian Workplace Agreements are retained beyond their expiry date, the new umpire, Fair Work Australia, should be able to terminate unfair AWAs prior to their expiry if they would not pass the new ‘better off overall’ test (BOOT).

  • Unwarranted restrictions on the subject matter of agreements remain. The unnecessary limits on what can be included in collective agreements will have the absurd effect of preventing small business employers from agreeing to have a shorter qualifying period for protection from unfair dismissal.
    “We don’t think workers in small businesses should have to wait 12 months to get protection from unfair dismissal when their counterparts have to wait only 6 months,” said Ms Burrow.
    “Unions are planning a vigorous defence of the right of workers to access union advice and support in their workplace.
    “Unions need to be able to represent their members and prevent them from being exploited or discriminated against. Being able to check pay and personnel records of all employees in a workplace is vital.”
    The ACTU Executive will also discuss the fall out from the global financial crisis and the importance of maintaining jobs and income security over the coming year.