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ACTU claims about the FWC’s powers are fanciful

“Today’s media release from the ACTU about the Fair Work Commission’s powers contains fanciful assertions that bear no relationship with reality”, the Australian Industry Group’s Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

“The ACTU asserts that the Coalition Government has cut the powers of the Fair Work Commission. This is not correct. The Commission’s powers were set by Labor’s Fair Work Act in 2009and there have been no cuts to those powers. In fact, when the Act was introduced by the Labor Government, the legislation increased powers for unions in more than 100 areas, and gave the Commission more power to settle disputes.

“The Commission has the necessary powers to intervene in serious bargaining disputes. Sometimes it is necessary for the Commission to intervene and determine an outcome when the economy or the welfare of the population is threatened by a bargaining dispute. However, the Commission should not be given the power to intervene just because bargaining parties have not reached an agreement after a protracted period. Where an outcome is forced on parties, the result is of course not an “agreement”. Compulsory arbitration is antithetical to enterprise bargaining.

 “A few sensible changes are needed to the bargaining laws but not the ones that the unions are seeking to swing the balance in their favour. Two changes that are urgently needed are:

  • To give the Commission more discretion to overlook minor procedural defects in enterprise agreement approval applications, as would be delivered through the passage of the Fair Work Amendment (Repeal of 4 Yearly Reviews and Other Measures) Bill 2017 through Parliament; and
  • To address current problems with the Better Off Overall Test for enterprise agreements to ensure that the test is applied by the Commission to logical groups of employees, and not individual employees.

“In our democracy public debate is important. However, the interests of democracy are not served by the distribution of information that is plainly incorrect. The ACTU’s assertions are increasingly becoming fodder for Fact Check units”, Mr Willox said.

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Tony Melville – 0419 190 347