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Government to set up independent advisory service for industrial relations.
29/01/2001 2:27 PM
An authoritative and independent advisory service will be the cornerstone of improvements to the labour relations system under a re-elected Coalition Government.
Launching the Coalition’s Workplace Relations Policy today at Western Australian ship building success story Oceanfast, Premier Richard Court reconfirmed the Coalition’s strong commitment to workplace agreements.
“The significant reforms that the Coalition Government has made to the labour relations environment in Western Australia have been for the good of employees, the good of employers and the good of WA’s economy,” Mr Court said.
“They have provided greater flexibility and certainty and have taken our State forward in leaps and bounds much to the chagrin of the Labor Party which wants to take us back to the industrial relations dark ages.”
Labour Relations Minister Cheryl Edwardes said that the independent advisory service would help employees and employers to use the labour relations system and would provide advice on:
an employee’s statutory rights;
how to respond appropriately to an offer of a workplace agreement;
options in situations where an employer may not be responding appropriately to the concerns of employees;
options for resolving disputes about the terms of a signed workplace agreement; and -
using the unfair dismissal system.
Mrs Edwardes said advisers from the service would regularly visit regional centres and telephone and Internet services would back up help for country people.
“The improvements build upon the successes of a labour relations system that is flexible, productive, well-paying, widely accepted and sought-after by many employers and employees,” she said.
The Coalition’s Policy will also increase the powers of the Commissioner of Workplace Agreements in terms of registering agreements and overseeing fair treatment.
The commissioner would be able to:
re-examine the tests for genuine agreement making and strengthen the protection for employees facing undue pressure when finalising an agreement,
direct parties to reconsider a proposed workplace agreement if it does not comply with the Employee Protection Act (the new name for the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act), and -
refuse registration of an agreement if it does not comply with the Employee Protection Act.
“Employers lodging workplace agreements will have to be ‘approved employers’ and attest to their obligations under the Workplace Agreements Act 1993, The Employee Protection Act and the freedom of association provisions of the Industrial Relations Act 1979,” Mrs Edwardes said.
“An employer can have their approval withdrawn if they engage in unfair practices and Industrial Inspectors will have the express power to investigate and prosecute breaches of the Workplace Agreements Act.”
Mrs Edwardes said the Coalition’s Workplace Relations Policy also included commitments to:
employers and employees having access to a dispute resolution advisory service to help them work through their options for resolving disputes;
an advisory service to help employers and employees work through unfair dismissal cases based on stronger pre-trial mediation;
a Government review of the existing minimum employment standards with the aim of better reflecting community and business needs;
the introduction of paid parental leave in the public sector for primary care-givers; and -
retention of the Building and Construction Industry Taskforce to ensure workplace relations practices in the industry are fair for employees and employers.
Mrs Edwardes said the Coalition, with industry support, would also implement a major education and awareness campaign aimed at improving gender pay equity.
In addition, the Industrial Relations Act would be modernised to include the principle of equal pay.
Educational strategies would be targeted at injury prevention, risk and injury management and specific industries and employers with bad track records.
Mrs Edwardes said if voters wanted to risk a Labor Government, they would put at risk the low unemployment the State currently enjoys, the social and economic benefits individual workers enjoy, and the flexible work arrangements that businesses enjoy.
“Most of all, Western Australian employees and employers risk being told what they can and can’t do in their own work place by unions backed by secret deals with the Labor Party,” she said.
“It’s not time to change, its time to hold the line and continue the improvements this Government is delivering to all Western Australians.”
Justine Whittome, Premier’s office, 9222 9475
Steve Manchee, Minister Edwardes’ office, 9421 7777