Fair Work Review Must Lead to Change
The Government must act immediately on the Fair Work Act Review Panel’s report, and respond to the concerns of business.
Wilhelm Harnisch, CEO of Master Builders Australia said the Government’s response to the Review Panel’s report due for release later this month must not ignore the nation’s productivity challenge.
“With a two speed economy and an aging population, addressing Australia’s productivity challenge is critical. It would be negligent of Government not to include industrial relations reform as part of the national productivity agenda.
“The Fair Work Act review must be seized as an opportunity to lay the foundations to make meaningful change. It would be a shame for the opportunity to be wasted because of partisan politics,” Mr Harnisch said.
Mr Harnisch said the building and construction industry should not be hampered in playing its part improving productivity due to inflexibilities in the Fair Work Act.
“Since the abolition of the ABCC in June 2012, the industry has had to rely on the Fair Work Act, administered by a weakened regulator to protect productivity.
“The industry continues to experience an increase in lost hours as a result of unlawful industrial action under the weakened regulator, a great deal of which is not reported in the official statistics, Mr Harnisch said.
Earlier this year, Infrastructure Australia identified more than 40 high priority infrastructure projects that will make a valuable contribution in addressing the national productivity challenge. These projects will cost Australia more than $76 billion. Productivity improvements delivered by industrial relations reform could significantly reduce the $76 billion price tag.
“The Fair Work Act needs to be amended to restrict unions’ ability to unlawfully disrupt work, interfere with independent contracting arrangements and allow unsustainable wage increases.
“If the Government’s ignores the genuine concerns held by business, we can expect to see the cost of taxpayer funded infrastructure continue to blow out. For example, exorbitant wage increases and restrictive work practices negotiated by unions added $34 million to the cost of the desalination plant in Victoria.
“Treasurer Wayne Swan was 100 per cent correct when he said tackling the nation’s productivity challenge was for everybody.
“It’s not just up to businesses and managers to improve and innovate. Government must play its part and provide a more flexible workplace relations system,” Mr Harnisch concluded.