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Labor Party strikes back

WA OPPOSITION Labour Relations spokesman John Kobelke has hit back at claims that his party’s industrial relations policy will open small businesses up to union intimidation.

The Labor Party’s IR direction statement called for the scrapping of the Court Government’s second and third waves of IR law.

It also called for the scrapping of the Workplace Agreement Act, replacing individual contracts with Employee Employer Agree-ments.

These EEAs are to be backed by Award conditions rather than the minimum conditions of employ-ment set in place by the Government.

Labour Relations Minister Cheryl Edwardes said scrapping WA’s industrial relations law changes would allow Labor’s “union mates” to be reinstalled as the dictators of pay and conditions in every WA workplace.

Mrs Edwardes said Dr Gallop’s plan to scrap the Government’s IR laws would “deny non-union employees protection from intimidation by union officials over time and wages records, deny employees a reasonable say over their financial superannuation affairs and allow cart blanche strike action with no dispute settlement procedures in every award and industrial agreement and intimidation during strike votes”.

“But what Dr Gallop really wants is to scrap political expenditure rules that give workers the right to decide which political party they support, not the party union officials decide they will back,” she said.

“Repealing this legislation also gives union officials the ability to enter any workplace at will to intimidate workers and disrupt workplaces.

“In short, unions – who represent only one in five workers – will run workplaces, not workers and business owners.”

“WA companies have to decide whether they are going for high quality, high technology production or ratcheting their prices down to compete with Asia.”

John Kobelke

Mr Kobelke said he rejected the view that unions would be handed more power.

“This won’t give the unions an upper hand. It gives them a level playing field,” he said.

Mr Kobelke said a Labor Government would countenance non-union agreements.

“We are giving employers the flexibility to come up with other agreements if there is no union covering their industry,” he said.

“Where there is no award covering an industry, the minimum conditions of employ-ment will stand. We will give the Industrial Relations Commission the respon-sibility to set those minima.

“These minimum conditions won’t have the details of an award, however, they will come close to an hourly award rate.”

Mr Kobelke said the commission would work out the details of packaging awards to create an hourly rate for individual contracts.

“Outside parties will not be allowed to intervene in individual contracts,” he said.

“However, third parties can approach the commission regard-ing the packaging of the award conditions.

“It’s largely how the Federal Australian Workplace Agree-ments work.”

Mr Kobelke said Labor would not allow the under-cutting of basic award standards.

“WA companies have to decide whether they are going for high quality, high technology product-ion or ratcheting their prices down to compete with Asia,” he said.

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