Government makes concessions on multi-employer bargaining bill

The Albanian government has made concessions to employers on its plan to extend multi-employer bargaining, as it hopes to get its industrial relations legislation through parliament quickly before Christmas.

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke said on Sunday there would be a change in how the proposed vote would work for those deals.

He also signaled that the government favored a six-month “grace” period to allow negotiations to continue after a single company agreement expired before employees could apply for a multi-employer agreement.

Employers had expressed “reasonable concern” that a large workplace could overwhelm the vote of a smaller one, in a general vote, Burke said.

Under the amendment, worker votes – to be part of a deal, to take industrial action or to accept a deal – would be at the individual company level.

“It puts an end to the argument that you’re going to end up with workplaces that didn’t want to be part of a deal but somehow got drafted in anyway, or didn’t want to be part of a industrial action,” Burke told Sky. .

“If you vote against any of the steps at this corporate level, you’re not in it.”

The government says it wants the bill passed this year so it can get wage increases as soon as possible.

He believes that the extension of multi-employer bargaining, which currently exists only in a very limited form, will guarantee greater wage increases, especially in low-wage feminized sectors. On Friday, the Fair Work Commission issued its long-awaited decision for older workers, granting a 15% wage increase.

The legislation will be debated in the House of Representatives this week, with a vote on Thursday. The government has the numbers to get it through the house, without any MPs.



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But in the Senate, he needs an extra vote on top of the Greens. Key crossbencher David Pocock, who met Burke on Friday, continued to complain about the rush on Sunday.

“The bill was introduced just over a week ago, and we have already seen a number of significant changes signaled by the government. That tells me we need more time. That’s why I suggested splitting the bill.

In addition to multi-employer bargaining, the bill provides for the scrapping of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and various measures to reduce the gender pay gap.

One issue that has been raised is the threshold number of workers (15 in the current bill) for companies to fall under the multi-employer bargaining clause. Burke said the Senate cross-bench raised with him how the number was counted — for example, whether it would be a count of employees or full-time equivalents. Burke said he would have discussions about it when the bill reaches the Senate.



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Companies have been pushing for the number to be increased to 100.

Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of the Business Council, welcomed the concessions but said more was needed.

“We’re glad to have brought the government back to the table to reduce some of the most harmful unintended consequences of this legislation, but big problems remain,” Westacott said. The companies argue that the changes increase the complexity of an already complex system.


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