United Voice, who represent 30,000 Queensland workers, has expressed concern over proposed changes to Industrial Relations laws. The newly elected Government plans to implement a number of amendments to current legislation in the coming weeks. Although most of the changes are positive, there is a concern that some of the proposed provisions may have possible unintended consequences for members.
A large number of the workers represented by United Voice are in the public sector and are the ones who will be most affected by the changes.2000 work in the health industry, 8000 are teacher aides,3000 keep our schools clean while 2,500 are Ambulance Officers.
There are two areas in particular which are the greatest cause for concern, one of which is the prospect of introducing Ministerial declarations to terminate protected industrial action. Further clarity is needed on the circumstances which would constitute such a declaration being made as there’s a real fear this could be used as a tool to shut down industrial action. The most important thing is to make sure that unreasonable restrictions are not placed on those protesting to have their views heard.
While the new requirement to give consideration to the state’s fiscal strategy when determining wage negotiations by arbitration is also worrying. It’s imperative that the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission continue to be permitted to take other relevant factors into account when deciding the remuneration levels to be paid. If bargaining is unsuccessful, it is reasonable to expect that issues specific to an employment group are raised. United Voice has urged the Government to consider these concerns before implementing the amendments.