Australia - “Worst since WorkChoices”: Unions declare war on workplace changes

Unions might mount huge workplace strikes in a massive campaign against the federal government’s sprawling industrial relations changes, slammed as “the worst thing since WorkChoices” on Wednesday.
Australian politics is set for another sea-change in industrial relations (IR) rules, with the Labor party promising to block the changes, which opposition leader Anthony Albanese called “nasty” and “draconian”.
Under the government’s IR omnibus bill, finally introduced into parliament on Wednesday after days of various leaked details, employers may alter workers’ pay and conditions if a business has been affected by the pandemic.
Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter said this would have to be applied for and approved by the Fair Work Commission, and the power to do so would be wound back in 2023. But unions fear it will lead to workers being locked into unfair workplace agreements.
At the heart of the bill are proposed changes to the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT), a workplace bargaining safeguard that means enterprise agreements in individual workplaces can be approved only if they offer workers better conditions than under standard awards.
Under the changes outlined on Wednesday, employers would have more power to apply to the Fair Work Commission to approve agreements that would normally fail the BOOT. The workplace watchdog would consider the effects of COVID on the workplace.
The bill also aims to slash the time the commission may take to approve enterprise agreements to 21 days.
Mr. Albanese said the changes would be a betrayal of workers.

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