Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Big Kev's 'Big' IR Changes

Kevin Rudd has released his proposed changes to IR Laws. The changes, he says, are to make the system fairer, and will be introduced soon after the 2007 Federal election. His proosals include:
  • awards will not be used to cover those whos epay is above $100,000 (indexed to inflation) For many "ordinary Australian" workers, this is a figure chosen for its 6-figures - much more than they earn.
  • workers earning less than $100,000 would be covered by an award.
  • secondary boycotts stay- there is no change. The ALP can never go back to allowing them - the political risk is much too great.
  • those whose AWA's were signed before the so-called "fairness test" are likely to be stuck, some for the next 4 1/2 years! It would be infeasible to try to legislate backdated cancellation of such contracts. The best that the ALP, and those on AWAs can hope for, is that the proposed "transitional arrangements" will ease the burden on both.
  • Flexibility in awards would not allow employers to reduce pay and conditions. That would seem to be fairer, since AWA's can, and do, reduce not just pay, but other conditions such as public holidays.
The ALP claims that fewer than 5% of workers are on AWA's and that most of them are among the lowest paid workers in hospitality and retail. These are areas that use a large proportion of casual, part-time employees, many of them women, or young people.

There are undoubtedly many old-time ALP members and supporters who will be upset that the changes will not go far enough, and that the 1970's power of unions will not be restored. That is a good thing in many voters' minds, and will severely limit the level of valid criticism that could be used by John Howard's Parliamentary and Industry representatives. They will still use invalid, "bogyman" tactics to try to scare voters, though. It's worked in the past.