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Productivity Commission report a stark reminder to remain flexible and tackle hurdles that hamstring workforce productivity


The latest report from the Productivity Commission demonstrates that any future changes to workplace bargaining laws must improve focus on genuine productivity and remain enterprise-based, according to Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn.

The PC interim report 5-year Productivity Inquiry: A more productive labour market reinforces the importance of ensuring workplace laws and institutions remain flexible and suitable to modern workplaces, while highlighting the risks associated with any move to multi-enterprise bargaining.

“This report highlights the need for bargaining laws to be focussed on two crucial elements – individual enterprises and productivity.

“It shows that better wages will only be driven by bargaining which is enterprise-based and squarely aimed at achieving genuine improvements in productivity to the benefit of everyone at the workplace, and these should be the sole focus of any changes to the current laws,” Ms Wawn said.

The report also notes areas where the current system can work to stifle productivity or attempts at innovative workplace practices.

“The use of excessive power or unlawful action to game bargaining, and the use of ‘veto clauses’ in agreements, are two examples of practices that the building and construction industry has suffered from for decades.

“The Government’s decision to abolish the ABCC will only make this worse,” Ms Wawn said.

The report raises very serious concerns about calls for a return to industry-wide or centralised bargaining.

“There is now doubt that proposals such as a return to industry-wide bargaining risk future wage growth and shows a ‘one size fits all’ approach can reduce flexibility and encourage anti-competitive conduct.

“Expanding multi-employer bargaining laws is nothing more than a recipe for damaging strikes and, while there is no doubt our workplace bargaining laws need to improve, Government must resist changes that will take our workplaces and economy backwards,” Ms Wawn said.

Master Builders supports observations in the report for regulation reform regarding flexible migration settings, effective requirements for occupational licensing including digital data collection.

“The building and construction industry supports initiatives to enable better adoption of technology in the sector.

“Master Builders continues to advocate for a series of policy measures to improve productivity including reducing visa application timeframes, removing restrictive occupational migration lists, and fast-tracking harmonisation of licensing arrangements to simplify interstate and international flow of workers.

“We encourage the government to finalise new VET funding agreements with state and territory governments to ensure funding is based on quality of training and outcomes, as well as development of an Apprentice Commencement and Retention Strategy and fast-tracked the rollout of a Construction Industry Skills Cluster to perform workforce planning, career pathways and oversee the development and maintenance of national VET qualifications,” Ms Wawn said.

Media contact:
Dee Zegarac
National Director, Media & Public Affairs
0400 493 071

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