IR causes confusion in construction

by 02 Sep 2008

RECENT CHANGES to industrial relation legislation is more of an interference than a help for some industries, according to Tony Noonan, group human resources manager, MacMahon Holdings.

The removal of the option to use statutory individual agreements is one example of a change that is causing confusion and inconvenience among industries such as construction and mining, said Noonan.

“WorkChoices did nothing but cost us money and Fair Work Australia has added no value and is going to cost us money,” he said. “When governments make these changes they assume that there are things that are intrinsically good for all workers, but that’s not so.”

He said that although naturally there are some basic fundamentals such as banning child labour and equal pay for equal work that everybody can adopt; there can’t be a blanket rule for all workers.

Speaking at the National Industrial Relations Summit 2008 Noonan spoke about how flexibility built on trust in your organisation’s human resources strategy is key to the retention of staff and productivity, instead of inflexible government laws that don’t suit individual cases.

“If somebody in their 20s wants to maximise their cash intake and not take their annual leave, they should be allowed to do that,” he said.

“But when the government turns around and says ‘You can’t contract out of annual leave’ it is protecting some workers for some highly paid people who work less than half time out on remote sites – it doesn’t make sense.”

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is calling for uniform national industrial relations system by 2010, said there are no nasty surprises in store for anyone with the new reforms. She said the reforms taken to the Australian people at the last election will comprise the essential shape and detail of Australia’s new workplace relations system.

“Our intention is to fulfil our democratic mandate – something that wasn’t a part of Work Choices, and a reason why it eventually failed to gain public acceptance,” said Gillard. “[The] Forward with Fairness policy: its goal is fairness – for employers, employees and unions. It’s not about swinging the pendulum violently back to the other extreme from Work Choices but putting it where it should be – in the centre,” she said.


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