IR omnibus bill disastrous for small contractors

The Government’s Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 is bad news for jobs, bad news for business, and bad news for the economy says Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn.

“At a time where builders and small sub-contractors are already struggling with a long list of economic pressures, including material supply and labour shortages, this Bill will only make things worse and risks undermining national economic prosperity and future job creation.

“Entrenching industry-wide pattern deals and opening the door for economy-wide strike action is the exact opposite of what we need to support a modern and flexible economy.

“This Bill does nothing to secure jobs or provide better pay in the medium to long term and goes against the very fabric of traditional Labor industrial relations policies with former Prime Ministers Keating, Rudd and Gillard all lauding the importance of enterprise bargaining at the individual level as a key driver of productivity.

“Workplace laws need to encourage workplaces to drive productivity at the individual enterprise level, not take us back to a ‘one size fits all’ approach last seen in the 1970’s.

“For almost half a decade our entire industrial relations system has aimed to provide a safety net of minimum conditions and entrusted workers and employers to negotiate working conditions that suit their own specific needs.

“This Bill completely undoes this progress and will force workplaces to cop deals they don’t want and subject workers and business to industry-wide industrial action they don’t support.

“Only workers and employers know what is good for them and their business, and they shouldn’t be at the mercy of being dictated to by big unions.

“Minister Burke acknowledges the importance of productivity and flexibility in respect to enterprise bargaining, claiming this Bill will do just that, yet the words aren’t even mentioned in corresponding sections of the Bill.

“The abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission will only make things worse and exacerbate the adverse impacts on for construction industry workplaces.

“Banning the CFMEU from the proposed multi-employer bargaining stream won’t make a skerrick of difference, and no-one should fall for this legislative ‘sleight of hand’ approach.

“The CFMEU will still keep all their existing rights to pursue existing avenues that force builders into adopting their ‘one size fits all’ pattern deals, an approach that this Bill will now entrench across all industry sectors and make lawful for all unions right across the economy.

“It makes no sense to create laws with exclusions for unions who break workplace laws, when those very same laws abolish the only workplace regulator that can effectively hold unions to account for breaking workplace laws.

“Courts have found that the CFMEU break workplace laws, on average, well over 300 times each year. They’ve never even pretended that they would adhere to workplace laws, so why would they now?

“Government needs to seriously reconsider this Bill, especially at a time where we face cost of living pressures, a home affordability crisis, and precarious economic headwinds. At the very least, a rigorous and lengthy oversight process must be taken so it is not rushed through by the end of the year.” said Ms Wawn.