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AGAINST – Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 - Consideration in Detail - Warringah MP amendments

The majority voted in favour of disagreeing with amendments introduced by Warringah MP Zali Steggall (Independent), which means they failed.

What do the amendments do?

Ms Steggall explained that:

Amendments (1) to (3) deal with potential impacts on the productivity of businesses being roped into multi-employer bargaining after it has been completed. They haven't even been part of the negotiations, and the bill currently allows an employee representative—the union—to join an employer to a multiparty EBA after the conclusion of the agreement. The Fair Work Commission should consider the potential impact on the productivity of a business as a result of being compelled to sign onto the EBA. This is a straightforward amendment that should not be objected to by the government.

The public interest test is amendment (6). Again, the amendment deals with the potential effects on productivity and competition. The bill as currently drafted requires the Fair Work Commission to be satisfied that it is not contrary to the public interest to do so before making a single-interest authorisation. The problem is that the drafting does not specify what would be contrary to the public interest. There is, therefore, no guarantee that the Fair Work Commission would take into account the benefits to productivity, competition and consumer protection that come from enterprise-level collective bargaining. The proposed amendment would require the Fair Work Commission to take into account the need to achieve productivity and fairness through an emphasis on enterprise-level collective bargaining and the need to enhance the welfare of Australians through the promotion of competition and fair trading and the provision of consumer protections.

Amendment (5) deals with common interest. In the single-interest stream, the common interest test in the current bill is very loosely defined and could have the effect of lessening competition by obliging smaller competitors to agree to multi-employer agreements with much larger businesses, with the potential for the smaller competitors to simply be priced out of the market. My proposed amendments would oblige the Fair Work Commission to take into account the economic circumstances and the relative sizes and scope of the employers' enterprises, as well as the extent to which the employers operate collaboratively rather than competitively, when determining whether the employers have a common interest.

Of course, we've heard much today of the small business definition. The bill currently exempts businesses with fewer than 15 employees from being forced into single-interest employer bargaining. That figure is ridiculous. Many businesses with up to 50 employees would be unable to compete with large businesses who could afford to absorb the extra cost. They will go to the wall. What the amendment proposes is that it be at 50 full-time equivalent. At the very least, the government is saying it will consider it, and there is dispute on this number.


Date and time: 11:52 AM on 2022-11-10
Allegra Spender's vote: No
Total number of "aye" votes: 77
Total number of "no" votes: 56
Total number of abstentions: 18
Related bill: Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022

Adapted from information made available by

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