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Jobs to be centre-stage at Labor Party conference

Industrial relations is set to be a 2019 election battleground.

Senior Digital Journalist, Your Money

Following a year of decades-low wages growth and rising unaffordability, industrial relations is set to be one of the key themes at the ALP’s national conference in Adelaide on Saturday in the lead up to the 2019 general election.

Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten with Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek at the the NSW Labor Annual State Conference at the Sydney Town Hall, Sydney, Sunday, July 1, 2018. (AAP Image/Ben Rushton)

This year, we saw the return of the industrial relations portfolio for the first time since it was ditched in 2013 by the Abbott government, with former assistant treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer appointed minister.

The move has placed issues such as casual worker entitlements and union bargaining power back on the table.

Innes Willox, CEO of business lobbyist AI Group, joined TICKY to talk about some of the key workplace relations topics that will be up for debate at the conference.

These are three big issues that could affect your job:

    Industry-wide bargaining

    The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has been campaigning for Labor to restore industry-wide bargaining so that workers will have greater negotiating power on wages and conditions.

    While it has remained close-lipped on details, MP Brendan O’Connor said this week that the party would support the ACTU’s push for workers in some low wage jobs to be given the right to bargain across whole sectors.

    Calling the move “dangerous for the economy as a whole”, Willox said it would be “opening the Pandora’s Box for other union workers demands.”

    Ban on retail funds?

    Labor has come under pressure from some super industry bodies to ban retail or ‘for-profit’ super funds from operating after the financial services royal commission revealed legal breaches and under-performance.

    But others argue that Australia needs greater competition in the space, and that removing a whole category of funds will damage the sector.

    Penalty rates

    Labor has vowed to restore weekend and holiday penalty rates if it’s elected after the government controversially reduced rates for some workers by 10-15 per cent.

    The move has been attacked by the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) and the Liberal Party, who says it will hurt the small businesses that can no longer afford to operate on weekends.

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