Award modernisation a step back: CCF

CCF national chief executive officer Chris White told CIN today the CCF was disappointed that the Commission had not come down with a separate award for the industry.“We’ve got a whole raft of concerns that our industry will not be recognised in terms of that,” he said. “I think the whole issue of redundancy and the definition of redundancy is something that is of concern to us in the way that it is presented.“The AIRC was given the task of developing awards that would not provide any extra costs to employers and not reduce conditions for employees. What they’ve ended up doing is increasing costs,” White said.“My concern is that in striving to come up with one award to cover the whole of industry, you’ve got one award that does not fit everybody.” The CCF’s concerns were echoed by the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), which said the decision would make employers obliged to pay redundancies even when workers resigned at the completion of a project. The Ai Group said that before the introduction of the WorkChoices legislation, most of the construction awards had included a broad definition of redundancy, meaning that if workers were terminated for any reason other than misconduct, they were entitled to redundancy pay.“The WorkChoices legislation a few years ago invalidated those [original] award definitions, and said that in the construction industry and every other industry, the normal definition of redundancy applies,” Ai Group director of national industrial relations Stephen Smith told CIN.“So for the last few years, those provisions haven’t been operative, and in this decision of the AIRC last Friday, they’ve put the old provisions back in again. “We strongly oppose that. We don’t see any reason why there should be a different definition of redundancy on construction sites,” he said. “Someone’s either redundant or they’re not.“If the project finishes and the job’s no longer available, then it may well be redundant, but the definition within the construction award goes much further than that, and if [a worker] is terminated by an employer other than for misconduct, then they get this redundancy provision.”But overall, the Ai Group backed the AIRC’s approach to the award modernisation process, saying the Commission has addressed many of its other concerns about increasing employer costs. “Award modernisation is a massive and extremely complex task, with very tight timeframes. Ai Group commends the Commission for the consultative approach which it is taking,” Ai Group chief executive officer Heather Ridout said.

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