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Legal threat over IR laws

A WA business group has raised the possibility of legal action against the State Government if its proposed industrial relations legislation causes businesses to fail.

Coalition of Business Associations spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the coalition was a group of business associations that represented more than 40,000 business which collectively generate a turnover of more than $40 billion a year.

“If a business is forced to close due to these laws, we may have a case,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

As a recent telephone poll undertaken for WA Business News by JMG Marketing shows, the majority of business people believe IR is now a bigger issue for them than it was two years ago.

The survey of 130 senior executives, drawn in part from the WA Business News Book of Lists found more than 60 per cent of them found IR a major issue for their business.

It also found the bulk of respondents were aware of the proposed changes to the law and believed the changes would hurt their ability to employ more people and grow their businesses.

Mr Fitzpatrick said the Government’s move to make pay and conditions based on awards was flawed.

“Some of the awards are chronically out of date.”

Another concern is the union right-of-entry provisions proposed in the legislation. Mr Fitzpatrick said the provisions gave unions too much power.

“We can’t go into a union’s office and demand to see their records,” he said.

UnionsWA secretary Stephanie Mayman accused business groups of spreading fear needlessly.

“This right-of-entry legislation was in place in WA between 1900 and 1997,” Ms Mayman said.

“In my view there are ample opportunities for small businesses to enter into enterprise agreements with unions now to ensure they have the same flexibility, in light of the fact that low-paid workers have been suppressed for the past eight years.”

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