NSW public servants safe on IR

MORE THAN 180,000 public servants in NSW will be protected from the Federal Government’s new industrial relations laws, according to NSW Premier Morris Iemma

MORE THAN 180,000 public servants in NSW will be protected from the Federal Government’s new industrial relations laws, according to NSW Premier Morris Iemma.

Under legislation recently introduced in the NSW parliament, public servants will become employees of the crown, rather than of corporatised government agencies, in order to ensure they remain under the state IR system.

The legislation was “designed to protect their working conditions and protect their families from the unfair and unbalanced approach of WorkChoices,” Iemma said.

“It’s also designed to preserve the independence of having a state industrial relations body (that is) independent to be able to work at resolving industrial disputes.”

Under the new legislation, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission will have the power to rule on common law agreements between employers and workers, so that workers can continue to use the NSW commission.

Furthermore, in order to stop wage deals being frozen by changes as a result of WorkChoices, existing industrial awards will be converted to agreements.

However, the new laws would not apply to state-owned corporations because they are independent of government, but Iemma said he was considering measures to protect staff.

Employer groups reacted angrily to the news, claiming the changes will only add to the existing levels of confusion surrounding the introduction of a national workplace relations system.

“These amendments will also widen the productivity gap between the private and public sectors. Militant unionists will be delighted with these amendments and taxpayers will find they get even less value from the NSW public sector,” said Minna Knight, Australian Business Limited/State Chamber senior workplace policy advisor.

“Broadening the capacity of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to hear common law agreements between employers and employees will only add to the cost and confusion.”

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