OHS and WHS: Ai Group asks Senators to think of community first

Ai Group chief executive office Innes Willox has slammed the opposition’s amendments to the Fair Work Amendment Bill.

“It is vital that the Senate decisively reject the Labor Opposition's amendments to the Fair Work Amendment (Repeal of 4 Yearly Reviews and Other Measures) Bill 2017. The amendments would have a deeply negative impact upon businesses in all industries. In effect, the amendments would prevent the Fair Work Commission making decisions in award matters that benefit businesses. This is an outrageous proposition that needs to be decisively rejected by Parliament," Willox, said.

"Ai Group supports the Four Yearly Review Bill, but not at any cost. It would be much better for the Bill to be dealt with by the Senate next year, rather than for Parliament to pass the Bill with what are blatantly unfair, pro-union and anti-business amendments.

"The amendments would have the effect of overturning the Fair Work Commission's very lengthy and detailed Penalty Rates Decision, that was made after two years of hearings and a vast amount of evidence. The Commission decided to make some modest amendments to Sunday penalty rates in the fast food, retail and hospitality industries after judging that those rates were neither fair nor relevant. The amendments are being phased in over the next few years. According to Willox the Fair Work Commission's decision was recently unanimously confirmed by five judges of the Federal Court.

“The unions had the option of seeking a High Court review of the decision but they have, to date, chosen not to do so. It is very important that the Commission's Penalty Rates Decision is not overturned. It is also very important that Labor's unfair amendments to the Bill are rejected. If passed, the amendments would remove much of the independence of what is the independent umpire.”

Willox went on to say that under Labor's amendments, the Commission would not be able to vary any award in any manner that would be likely to reduce the take home pay of any employee, regardless of the circumstances or merits of a proposed award variation.

“What is the point in having an independent umpire if the umpire is only able to rule in favour of one of the parties? The amendments make a mockery of the notion of having an independent tribunal to maintain awards and would seriously undermine the integrity of and confidence in our industrial relations system.”

"All Senators need to put the community's interests first in this matter, rather than supporting what are blatant political tactics in this last session of Parliament for 2017 which are very unfair for businesses – small and large," Willox said.


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