Proposed changes to industrial relations laws in Western Australia would promote productivity and flexibility in workplaces, Productivity and Labour Relations Minister Yvonne Henderson said today.
"The amendments will facilitate workplace bargaining, as well as clarifying a range of other industrial relations issues," Mrs Henderson said.
The Minister gave the second-reading speech on the amendments in the Legislative Assembly today.
"At the heart of these changes is the requirement that the WA Industrial Relations Commission must accept that the terms and conditions of a workplace agreement are not inferior to those available under an award or industrial agreement," she said.
"The amendments recognise that collective bargaining by representative organisations is essential to the system of conciliation and arbitration, and provides a balance of power between employer and employee.
"The amendments will provide an option for single-union worksites and enable certified agreements between employers and unions to be registered with the State Industrial Relations Commission.
"A new section of the Act will ensure that enterprise-specific initiatives can be taken so that industry can develop productive and efficient workplaces."
Mrs Henderson said that strict rules would apply to certified agreements. There would have to be broad but genuine consent between the parties.
"It is envisaged that some enterprise agreements will replace awards while others will replace particular award provisions or be merely supplementary," she said.
"The Commission will also be empowered to decide which unions should have coverage of particular groups of workers or occupational groups.
"This will be a matter in the first instance for the Full Bench and subsequently for the President of the Commission."
Mrs Henderson said a further amendment would give the Commission the power to deal with complaints about the treatment of musicians in the entertainment industry.
"There is increasing evidence that musicians are being unfairly treated under the contracts they are required to enter into," she said.
"The proposed changes will establish a Performing Arts Tribunal within the Commission to examine the fairness or otherwise of service contracts and deal with breaches.
"Among other proposals, the Commission will be able to order monetary compensation to dismissed employees in cases where reinstatement is not an option."
The amendments were foreshadowed after the National and State Wage cases late last year and early this year.