The Federal Government has no intention of making major changes to the Fair Work Act, Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans said in a staunch defence of the FW system today (13 April). “I want to make it very clear to you today that the new system is working,” Evans said in a speech at the ACTU OHS and Workers’ Compensation Conference in Brisbane. Evans took aim at both employers and unions, saying the FW Act had delivered a record number of enterprise agreements covering more than 2.3 million employees and a decline in the number of days lost due to industrial disputes. “Despite these tangible results, on an almost daily basis I am confronted by media reports which typically feature a business organisation, an employer or a union blaming the FW Act for their failure to achieve a desired outcome,” he said. “These constant calls assume that there is a legislative quick fix for every problem encountered. But every time there is a call for change it is greeted by an equally strong opposing view,” he said. Evans said the FW system “requires the parties to act maturely, constructively and responsibly”. “The constant preoccupation with legislative quick fixes distracts from the real opportunities provided under the Fair Work system,” he said. Employers must take advantage of the opportunities to drive productivity gains through their enterprise agreements, Evans said. And unions “must recognise the opportunities to maximise outcomes for their members through bargains that increase productivity”, he said. “Failure to achieve these outcomes is less a reflection on the provisions of the Act and more an indication that the parties are yet to have fully explored the mechanisms and opportunities available to them,” Evans said. “The Government has no intention of making major changes to this legislation. The Act has only been in operation since July 2009 and many of the provisions have not been utilised or fully explored.”
Source: Thomson Reuters Workforce news, 13 April 2011.
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