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Making Work Fairer

October 27, 2022

The new Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 represents the first time the Australian Government has moved to rebalance the industrial system in favour of workers in over a decade.

AWU National Secretary Dan Walton says the Bill, introduced to Federal Parliament by IR Minister Tony Burke on Thursday, will reform the bargaining system to make it fairer and give workers a better shot at decent pay rises.

The Bill provides access to multi-employer bargaining, simplifies the approval process for enterprise bargaining agreements, and gives the Fair Work Commission the power to arbitrate EA terms where there is a protracted dispute. The ability for employers to terminate enterprise agreements and force workers onto award rates will be curtailed.

It will also raise the cap for small claims to make underpayment claims easier to prosecute.

Mr Walton says the Bill will go a long way to fixing a broken, outdated system.

“Since the enterprise bargaining system was introduced in the early 1990s, the share of the workforce covered by EAs has plummeted,” Mr Walton says.

“This has seen more workers being paid at lower award rates. Overall wage growth has flatlined.

“This Bill will help re-level the playing field and help workers achieve fair and decent pay rises through their union.

“Employer groups and conservative politicians will complain, because they have aggressively opposed fair and reasonable pay rises for ten years.”

The Bill also puts an end to politically motived union bashing by abolishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission and Registered Organisations Commission.

It will make job security and gender equity objects of the Fair Work Act, and give the FWC the power to arbitrate to resolve disputes about access to flexible working arrangements.

The latter means flexible rostering rights will be more easily available to parents with school-aged children, people with a disability, carers, the over 55s, and domestic violence victims.

Mr Walton says job security, gender equity and workplace flexibility are critical to many vulnerable workers, especially women.

“This Bill will protect some of our most vulnerable workers, who are often in lower paid jobs jobs,” he says.

“Giving them fair and easier access to safe, secure jobs and flexible work arrangements will make their lives that much easier and play a major role in closing the gender pay gap.”

The AWU will provide members with more in-depth updates on the Bill as the details are worked through.

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