Printing Industries has been given assurances that a Federal Labor Government would not impose a one-size fits all workplace agreement model on employers.

This was one of several issues discussed during a meeting on 28 September between Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Julia Gillard and Printing Industries representatives National President Peter Lane, CEO Philip Andersen and National Employee Relations and OHS Manager, Ken Stenner.

The Printing Industries delegation sought clarification on a range of ALP industrial relations policy issues. These included:

The unfair burden on employers under proposed Forward With Fairness parental leave provisions that would guarantee parents up to two years parental leave and ‘flexible’ work arrangements up to a child’s school age;
Long Service Leave policy that could significantly increase current provisions;
Award provisions, their application and limitations;
Proposed procedures for determining claims of unfair dismissal;
Casual employees and
Collective Agreement ground rules.
“It was very important that we get some direct answers on ALP industrial policy and provide reinforcement to the Opposition on the concerns of our members to some of their policy statements. Such policies could have a detrimental impact on our industry if the Opposition win government and their policies are implemented,” Mr Lane said.

“Our discussions were very frank and open and Ms Gillard was very happy to take on all issues raised.”

Mr Andersen said one of the most important issues discussed was the anticipated role of unions in collective agreements.

“Our concern is that an expanded union role could destabilise business confidence and lead to unbalanced and politically imposed agreement bargaining that would threaten the viability of many of our member companies,” he said.

“Ms Gillard assured us that the union role would be to assist its members and to work with employers. Both groups would be considered principal parties negotiating agreement terms.

“She also assured us that the current practice of allowing agreements to be based on workplace functional areas within a business would be maintained and  enterprise-wide, one-size fits all agreement laws would not be introduced.”

Ms Gillard foreshadowed the formation of a business advisory group to give a Federal Labor Government feedback on any proposed new employment laws.

“This is a welcome move as it will provide an important conduit for industry to have a representative voice in the development and implementation of legislation” Mr Stenner said.

“Ms Gillard also confirmed that a Labor government would limit award provisions to 10 employment related matters. This is the first time Labor has countenanced such a move and it is a historic and positive departure from its previous policy positions,” he said.

Mr Andersen said Ms Gillard was also briefed about the printing industry, its important role in the Australian economy, labour shortages and the challenge of attracting young people. She was presented with industry information including Printing Industries’ DVD “Imagine: A World Without Print”

Ms Gillard has also undertaken to provide written responses to an extensive range of questions raised by Printing Industries on behalf of its members.

Printing Industries Association of Australia

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