Fair Work Act threatens projects: AMMA

MINING companies and contractors need to be able to bypass unions and negotiate directly with employees or billions of dollars worth of resource projects could be at risk, according to an industry group.
Fair Work Act threatens projects: AMMA Fair Work Act threatens projects: AMMA Fair Work Act threatens projects: AMMA Fair Work Act threatens projects: AMMA Fair Work Act threatens projects: AMMA


Nicholas Brant

The Australian Mines and Metals Association’s submission to the Fair Work Act review panel made eight key recommendations.

AMMA chief executive Steve Knott said projects were under threat from ongoing industrial disputes, strike action and falling productivity.

“Instead of providing a balanced framework for cooperative and productive workplace relations that would see WA truly become the power state of Australia, the Fair Work Act is facilitating a return to workplace restrictions, union disputes, wage blow-outs, lower productivity and excessive transaction costs to employers,” Knott said.

“Western Australia has more than $A132 billion worth of resources projects committed, under construction or in the operational phase.

“Many of these projects are only now beginning to feel the adverse economic impacts of the collective bargaining process under the provisions set out by the Fair Work Act.”

Knott said there was nearly $100 billion worth of new resources projects in WA awaiting final approval.

“Many of these projects received final investment approval under the previous industrial regime and now the escalating labour costs of constructing these projects are leading to the financial viability of these being seriously questioned.”

AMMA recommended parties submitting enterprise agreements to Fair Work should demonstrate how they had considered productivity improvements.

AMMA also suggested that high income earners, earning more than $118,100, should be able to enter into direct employment arrangements with their employer.

The submission also said workplaces should be able to vote for an internal regulation model of industrial relations.

The submission said the agreement should be restricted to matters relating only to the employment relationship between employers and employees and that Fair Work should have the power to make a greenfield determination agreement for resource projects.

A greenfield agreement is an agreement between a union and a new employer who does not have employees at the time.

AMMA said unions should only be able to enter a worksite if they have members on that site, if the member requested the unions’ presence and if the union was a party to the enterprise agreement related to the site.

The submission said protected industrial action should not be permitted where the claims sought are not considered to be in the public interest.

It also said the legislative mechanisms under which courts can order work to resume following unprotected industrial action should be reviewed and made more responsive to employers who can be subject to costly industrial action.

This story first appeared on ILN's sister publication MiningNews.net.

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