Hon Julia Gillard issues new Fair Work Bill
The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Julia Gillard, the Rudd Labor Government delivered on what it promised the Australian people before the last election. We promised the Australian people that we would end Work Choices and we would replace it with Labor's plan to move Forward with Fairness. This is the policy document we took to the Australian people at the last election and today in the Parliament I've introduced this Bill, which implements the policy we asked Australian people to endorse.
The policy provides a fair safety net for every working Australian. A two-part safety net with 10 National Employment Standards and then for those Australians who earn less than $100 000 a year, a simple modern awards that they can rely on. This two-part safety net cannot be stripped away by anyone.
At the heart of Work Choices were statutory individual employment agreements, Australian Workplace Agreements, that could strip the safety the safety net away without compensation. Take away penalty rates; take away over time without compensation. Under Labor's Fair Work Bill, every working Australian will have a safety net he or she can rely on and that no one can take away.
In addition, Labor's Bill provides for fair bargaining. Collective bargaining at the enterprise level is good for employees; it's good for employers; it's good for productivity; it's good for the national economy. It's a way of people working out in their workplaces the work arrangements that suit them. Under Labor's fair bargaining system, where the majority of employees in a workplace want to collectively bargain, then their employer will have to sit at the bargaining table with them. Bargaining will happen in good faith. If there is a breach of good faith, people will be able to approach Fair Work Australia for orders.
Now, we know bargaining happens around this country all day everyday without the need for any intervention because people get on with it, they're used to bargaining and they want to bargain. But Fair Work Australia will be there able to make good faith bargaining orders should that be necessary.
Agreements that come out of a bargaining process will be the agreement for that workplace if it is approved by the majority of employees. Employees will have the right to be represented in bargaining, but at the end of the day what will determine whether or not an agreement is made, is whether the employer agrees to it and the majority of employees to be subject to the agreement agree with it.
Fair Work Australia will approve agreements and Fair Work Australia will ensure that agreements made at the enterprise level mean every employee is better off overall as compared with the award. A safety net you can rely on, a safety net no one can take away, an agreement making stream that must leave you better off overall than the award.
This legislation also provides for working Australians to take unfair dismissal action should that be necessary. Now, once again, all round this country, businesses manage their workplace relations, their personnel and their people properly. Indeed, there's nothing more valuable to them than their hardworking staff. But on the odd occasion, things do go wrong and when that happens, employees who have served more than 12 months in a small business, a business of fewer than 15 employees, or more than six months in a bigger business, will be able to take an unfair dismissal claim. People who have worked 12 months in small business, six months in a bigger business, have proven themselves to be good workers. If something goes wrong at work and they are unfairly dismissed, we believe they should be able to take a claim.