Industrial agent conduct covenant cancelled

INDUSTRIAL agents could become a thing of the past under the WA Government’s Industrial Relations Reform Bill.

The Bill removes parts of Section 112 of the Industrial Relations Act that governs the qualification standards, code of conduct and professional indemnity insurance requirements that industrial agents have to meet.

The section was introduced into the Act in the early 1990s to allow industrial agents to charge for their services without running foul of the Legal Practitioners Act.

Without it the 78 industrial agents that are currently registered with the WA Industrial Relations Commission may be forced to cease trading.

Unions and employer organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry will not be affected.

Perhaps more worrying to practitioners is the removal of any professional standards for the industry.

Under what is proposed in the Bill an unqualified person can operate as an agent without having to meet any code of conduct.

The practitioners believe the industry is being opened up to “cowboys”.

A spokesman for Employment and Consumer Protection Minister John Kobelke was unable to say whether the Government would put in any provisions to govern the operation of industrial agents.

Workplace Professionals director Tony Thompson said the removal of sections requiring professional standards could allow unqualified agents into a quasi-legal arena.

“There will be nothing in place to substantiate their qualifications or to ensure that they are carrying any professional indemnity insurance,” Mr Thompson said.

Industrial agent Oliver Moon said the registration process had brought some credibility to the industrial relations system.

“Without it that credibility is lost and the industry will suffer for it,” he said.

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