Further delay for new IR laws

WORKPLACE agreements will run for at least six months and possibly a year longer than the Labor Government had hoped.

Consumer and Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke has admitted that the Government’s industrial relations laws will not be introduced into Parliament until February next year.

The legislation is expected to repeal the Court Government’s industrial relations laws that set up WA’s workplace agreements system and put constraints on union activities.

Mr Kobelke said in March that workplace agreements would only have a three-month lifespan after the Government introduced its new IR legislation. At that stage the legislation was due to go to Parliament in July.

However, due to the complexity of the legislation, the Government has since failed to meet every deadline it set to introduce the laws this year.

This means workplace agreements struck after March 21, the cut-off date Mr Kobelke set, will last until at least May.

A spokesman for Mr Kobelke said the consultation period for the legislation meant it would not be able to introduce its IR laws until next year.

The Government is believed to have circulated a confidential document to stakeholders in the industrial relations debate.

A spokesman for Mr Kobelke said there had been consultation with key stakeholders on two matters in the legislation to try and simplify and shorten the Bill. At the moment it is a 250-page document.

Those matters were the transition from workplace agreements to the Government’s proposed Employee Employer Agreements and unfair dismissal. One of the stakeholders was UnionsWA.

Those who have seen the document describe it as a very broad policy statement with detail so wide “you could drive a truck through it”.

Even former Industrial Relations Minister Graham Kierath, the architect of many of the laws Labor set out to change, believed the Government would have problems introducing its legislation.

He said the Court Government had to introduce its IR laws in stages due to the complexity it faced in changing WA’s workplace system.

The Government’s tardiness in introducing its IR legislation has caused several unions, including the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, to withhold the dues they normally pay to the Labor Party.

CFMEU State secretary Kevin Reynolds has branded this Government as not a “Labor Government’s bootlace”.

UnionsWA acting secretary Stephanie Mayman said there had not been enough progress made on draft legislation from a union point of view.

“The Government has indicated it is moving to introduce this legislation early next year but where’s the evidence of that?” Ms Mayman asked.

“It consulted on changes to the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act earlier this year but we still haven’t seen any legislation about that.

“They committed to the electorate that IR was a priority.

“But if they introduce their legislation next year it sends a poor message to workers about the Government’s priorities.”

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