The Palaszczuk government’s back-to-the-future move to tear-up anti-union workplace laws imposed by ousted premier Campbell Newman has sent the state’s local government sector into panic mode after the state’s peak group for councils warned 1500 jobs could be lost.
The Local Government Association of Queensland on Thursday broadsided the state government over new laws that roll back previous public service industrial relations provisions and will also sink a new single award for employees across 77 councils.
The peak body, which doubles as an industrial organisation that represents councils as employers in negotiations of awards and pay with unions, is furious that its hard fought uniform instrument across the state has been junked in favour of a return to striking deals council by council which they say produces a costly administrative nightmare they can’t afford.
“The Government describes today’s announced changes as restoring the independence of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission yet at the same time it is directing the Commission to include certain matters in industrial awards,” LGAQ chief executive Greg Hallam said.
“This decision comes at a time when government funding assistance to local councils continues to decline and the community is hardening its resistance to rate increases. Where was the union movement when previous Labor governments decided to slash spending on infrastructure programs?”
“We fear this move may end up costing 1500 local government jobs over the next 18 months,” Mr Hallam said.
However unions, whose presence in government workplaces was aggressively targeted under the Newman government, are playing a straight bat to the changes and claims.
“The single award made under the Newman Government legislation was a travesty of fairness and no reasonable person could accept that the Award should be allowed to stand,” Secretary of The Services Union, Neil Henderson, told Government News.
“The Government’s decision to reopen Award modernisation and in particular the making of the Local Government Industry Award restores fairness to the process. This decision was made after consulting with all industry stakeholders and not just consulting the Local Government Association of Queensland like the Newman Government. The community has been calling for the restoration of fairness,” Mr Henderson said.
Asked if The Services Union had a position on a Queensland-wide local government award and whether there was room for simplification and improvement of the pre Newman award structure, Mr Henderson left the door open for some changes.
“Only the Brisbane City Council is covered by single employer Awards. There is room for some tidying up of Award coverage in the industry but not for wholesale ripping away of longstanding Award provisions many of which were consent arrangements,” Mr Henderson said.
Former Premier Newman was previously Lord Mayor of Brisbane.
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