PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION: These Are The Flaws In Australia's Workplace Relations

A construction worker uses a jack hammer at Aussie Stadium October 12, 2006 in Sydney, Australia (Photo: Getty Images)

A series of major discussion papers produced by the Productivity Commission on workplace relations have exposed the flaws in the current system.

The documents look at the relationship between labour and employees across issues such as the minimum wage and penalty rates.

The Labor opposition believes the papers will become the blueprint for a revival of the Coalition’s Workchoices and an assault on wages and conditions.

However, the Productivity Commission says many commentators see flaws in the current system but views on the problems are divided.

Some businesses say the system lacks flexibility and interferes with managers’ ability to manage.

The Australian Industry Group’s submission said the existing system made it difficult for businesses to hire contractors and use labour hire businesses.

Other complaints from business, include that the system:

  • Encourages overly adversarial relationships between management and employees
  • Allows strikes over matters outside the employment relationship
  • Imposes high penalty rates for work outside the five day working cycle
  • Has costly and slow unfair dismissal laws, with employers sometimes paying go away money to avoid the formal process

However, some unions have their own concerns:

  • Lacks a safety net for workers not classified as employees, such as outworkers and contractors and that sham contracting is used to reduce wages and conditions
  • Offers inadequate protections in relation to temporary overseas workers
  • Is too narrow in its general protections
  • Unreasonably limits the scope of bargaining though its definition of permitted matters

The final report is due in November.

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