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Workplace agreements to end

ANY workplace agreement which is registered from this week will be valid for only six months after new workplace legislation comes into force.

The new legislation is expected to be law by the end of the financial year. Workplace agreements registered before March 21 will continue to run until their expiry dates — with all WPAs extinguished within three years.

Labor is sticking to its promise to repeal the former Government’s Workplace Agreements Act and replacing workplace agreements with employer-employee agreements.

Labour Relations Minister John Kobelke said the time limit was imposed to prevent a rush on employers trying to register work-place agreements before the new legislation was passed.

“During the election campaign we announced workplace agreements would be replaced if we took office,” Mr Kobelke said.

“It could be reasonably argued that we could backdate our legislation to when we took office but we have decided to announce a cut-off date instead.”

Labor’s proposed EEA regime is worrying the small business community.

It was happy with the old workplace agreements system because it offered flexibility that was not available under the previous Awards-based regime.

Labor’s EEAs will be under-pinned by Award conditions, which small business groups say will lead to compulsory unionism.

They argue Awards are thrashed out between big business lobby groups and unions and small businesses have no say.

Small Business Minister Clive Brown said the EEAs were designed to give employers flexi-bility.

“The terms and conditions of these EEAs may be completely different to the Award but the employee must be no worse off on balance,” Mr Brown said.

Mr Kobelke said if employers wanted to benefit from changing work place conditions for greater productivity then they had to make the new EEAs more “appealing than the award conditions”.

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