The Fair Work Act1 November 2011
Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum AO says the Fair Work Act provisions regulating strikes are virtually unchanged from WorkChoices, in the wake of the Qantas dispute.
In an interview with ABC Radio Current Affairs Program, PM, Emeritus Professor McCallum stipulates that Fair Work Australia's decision to terminate industrial action over the Qantas agreement was based on its power to stop actions that threaten significant damage to the economy - this highlights the similarities between Work Choices and the Labor Government's Fair Work Act when it comes to enterprise bargaining.
"Giving the power of the minister to intervene on her or his own behalf and make the declaration; that was the addition to WorkChoices.
"The laws were tweaked under Fair Work but they're the same laws really.
Little difference between Work Choices and Fair Work Act strike provisions - ABC Radio Current Affairs, PM
"What can be included in an agreement is pretty much the same; it's governed by High Court precedents right up to 2004 and that's why the arbitration before Fair Work Australia, now that industrial action has stopped, is likely to lead to a victory for Qantas.
"Neither WorkChoices nor Fair Work have altered the general rule which is that an arbitrator cannot tell an employer how to run their business per se; they can only relate to the work performed by the employees.
"They might be able to specify that when contracting out occurs, the wages of the employees of the contractors should reach certain levels but it can't stretch to work that's contracted overseas; it's a casualty of globalisation."
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Contact: Greg Sherington
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