AUSTRALIAN Energy and Resources Group (AMMA) to help the nation recover from the COVID-19 pandemic has put a number of industrial relations reforms forward. They include streamlining agreement making, simplifying the safety net and reducing what it calls the “risk, cost and uncertainty in Australia’s employment system”.

Ahead of his National Press Club address on 26 May, AMMA provided Prime Minister Scott Morrison with the industry’s Post-Pandemic IR Reform Framework.

“In the post-COVID environment we need a system that encourages business to employ, and gets jobseekers back into the workforce,” AMMA chief executive Steve Knott AM said.

“Our reforms are about keeping people in work, getting more people in work and improving existing pay and conditions.

“With up to 20% of the private sector predicted to be either unemployed or underemployed in coming months, these reforms are targeted at streamlining and incentivising new employment during the post-pandemic recovery.”

AMMA’s IR reform framework covers three areas of longstanding frustration for the resources and energy industry and the business community more broadly: agreement-making, the safety net and the “risk, cost and uncertainty” created by casual employment liabilities, personal leave entitlements and unfair dismissal and ‘adverse action’ laws.

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In his address, Mr Morrison said industrial relations would be reworked as part of his post-pandemic plan.

He gave a harsh assessment of Australia’s current system for managing the relationships between employers and employees, arguing both unions and employers have at times succumbed to “tribalism, conflict, and ideological posturing”.

“Our current system is not fit for purpose, especially given the scale of the jobs challenge that we now face as a nation,” he said.

“Our industrial relations system has settled into a complacency of unions seeking marginal benefits and employers closing down risks, often by simply not employing anyone.”

He said the government wanted to have constructive meetings with both employers and unions, announcing proposed union-busting laws would be shelved as a sign of “good faith”.

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter will hold the working group meetings between now and September.

AMMA has an extensive history of taking a combative approach to industrial relations and has earned the ire of labour unions including the Maritime Union.

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