- The Morrison government’s omnibus industrial relations bill is in ‘shambles’ as it looks to surrender all but one of its five reforms.
- Facing significant opposition in the Senate over the “complex and contentious bill”, the government will not pursue the reintroduction of bargaining agreements, award amendments, or changes to greenfield agreements.
- While it had support from the crossbench to introduce wage theft protections, it will drop those as well, instead focusing on enshrining the definition of casual work.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
The federal government has been forced to wave the white flag on its plans to reform Australian industrial relations, dropping all but one of its proposals.
After facing significant opposition in the Senate, the Morrison government has revealed on Thursday it will ditch four out of five reforms.
Those that won’t find their way off the cutting room floor include the proposed re-introduction of bargaining agreements and amendments to industry awards.
Most significantly, the policy retreat will also see the government inexplicably back down from offering Australians greater wage theft protections, despite having been given the key cross-bench support required to pass them from the Centre Alliance.
“We need to deal with wage theft as a priority to protect workers from unscrupulous employers who seek to rip them off,” Centre Alliance senator Stirling Griff said on Thursday morning.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) slammed the government’s decision to ditch the protections at the eleventh hour and walk away from “nine months of intensive discussions” with stakeholders.
“This is shameful and vindictive reaction to not getting widespread support for other changes that would reduce workers’ rights,” ACTU secretary Sally McManus said.
“We have given the Government a path forward with stronger laws on wage theft and better rights for casuals. If they will not give their support to these proposals, we call on the crossbench to oppose the Bill.”
Casual work definition to be enshrined
It cuts the omnibus bill, which had already criticised by some as unambitious, down to a single reform, formalising the definition of a casual worker.
The ACTU and Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) have already come to their own agreed definition, and the instances when an employer needs to, or doesn’t need to, offer a casual worker a permanent position.
It says the agreement would create secure work, allowing for arbitration via the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in instances negotiations break down between workers and employers.
The definition of casual the ACTU and @COSBOA have come together on is easy and straightforward to understand. It’s the first time unions and small business have worked closely on this issue. We’ve had good discussion with small business on this. #ausunions #auspol pic.twitter.com/MnNxDtu5T2
— Australian Unions (@unionsaustralia) March 17, 2021
It is now urging MPs to back its proposal while Labor prepares its own amendments to the bill, according to Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke.
“Measure after measure here ends up failing the simple test we’ve put forward, which is it had to deliver secure jobs with decent pay,” Burke told Sky News on Thursday.
Adding the IR bill looks to now be “in shambles” however, it looks like any solid employment reforms are a long way away.
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