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Building and construction exposed with flawed IR omnibus bill

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Master Builders Australia today lodged its submission to the Education and Employment Legislation Committee inquiry into the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022.

The Bill must be considered with reference to current national economic conditions and the current challenges these bring to workplaces says Master Builders CEO Denita Wawn.

“Master Builders does not support the Bill and although it contains some positive elements, these are heavily outweighed by a range of fundamental changes that the industry opposes outright, including the abolition of the building and construction watchdog and the expanded use of multi-employer bargaining.

“The ABCC has made a significant difference in ensuring building industry participants comply with the rule of law and it has driven much needed positive cultural change. The work of the ABCC is not yet done and Master Builders emphatically opposes any moves to abolish it.

“The Bill holistically seeks to undermine the efforts of previous governments from Keating to Gillard to improve the relationship between employers and their employees, one which recognises the importance of enterprise bargaining in achieving higher wages growth and improved productivity.

“A strong and flexible industrial relations system underpins a competitive, modern, and productive economy.

“There is no doubt that the multi-employer bargaining streams proposed in the Bill will see a return to industry-wide pattern deals and entrench sector-wide strike action that will be damaging to workplaces and the broader economy.

“While we acknowledge the government’s recognition of the unique characteristics of the building and construction industry with a recently proposed carve-out of part of the industry from multi-employer bargaining, we find it perplexing that the government dismisses those unique characteristics when abolishing the ABCC.

“The carve out does not include the entire industry nor does the industry operate in an economic silo and will not be shielded from impacts further down the supply chain.

“If industries like shipping, transport, warehousing, logistics are adversely impacted by multi-employer bargaining, then so will building and construction. You can’t build things if the products you need are caught up in a ports strike, can’t be delivered due to transport strikes, can’t be accessed due to logistics strikes, or can’t be obtained because of a manufacturing strike.

“Ultimately, this Bill seeks to take out the ‘enterprise’ and ‘agreement’ from enterprise bargaining agreements. It also leaves non-union and single enterprise agreements stuck in the slow-lane and mired in red tape.

“Builders are alarmed that this Bill has capacity to result in adverse impacts to national economic prosperity and future job creation.

“The economy relies on a strong building and construction sector, one which employs one in ten working Australians, contributes three dollars for every one dollar invested into the economy and is entrenched across many sectors from manufacturing, professional services and local small businesses.

“The Senate must resist the pressure from the unions to pursue industrial relations policies that will have an adverse effect on low unemployment, productivity, and impact real wages in the long-term,” said Ms Wawn.

Media contact:
Dee Zegarac
National Director, Media & Public Affairs
0400 493 071
dee.zegarac@masterbuilders.com.au

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