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Building Construction, Industrial Relations

Business unites to oppose destructive IR changes

Master Builders Australia 5 mins read

Joint statement from:
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association
Business Council of Australia
Council of Small Business Organisations Australia
Master Builders Australia
Minerals Council of Australia
National Farmers Federation
Recruitment, Consulting & Staffing Association 

The Australian business community today stands as one with the launch of a national media campaign to raise public awareness of the risks if the Albanese Government implements the so-called ‘Same Job, Same Pay’ industrial relations changes. 

The latest upheaval to Australia’s workplace relations regime will lead to lower wage growth and fewer jobs – compounding the plight of workers and families who are already doing it tough. 

The so-called ‘Same Job, Same Pay’ proposals does not mean equal pay for men and women. It does not speak of fairness and justice, as its name falsely represents. 

It means by law, employers will have to pay workers with little knowledge or experience exactly the same as workers with decades of knowledge and experience. 

It means by law, you cannot earn better pay by working harder or longer, if your colleague does not share your ambition or work ethic. 

This retrograde policy will deny Australian workers flexibility and the capacity to be treated individually. It will deny them the opportunity to negotiate more pay for harder work. 

‘Same job, same pay’ will take away worker incentive and reduce productivity. This is not fair for workers or their employers. There is a better way, for better pay. 

These changes will make it more difficult for small operators to do business with big companies – rendering many service providers simply unviable – while putting significant constraints on companies wishing to expand, construct new projects and infrastructure, or simply manage their operations in their own way. 

Businesses of all shapes and sizes need the ability to ramp up and ramp down, as economic conditions require and as opportunities arise.  

Workplace rigidity will ensure these opportunities for growth will either go begging, or companies will be forced to endure a never-ending rollercoaster of hiring and firing as project development, construction and commodity prices rise or fall. 

The Albanese Government must put the interests of the community and the broader economy ahead of this overt pursuit of giving more power to unions; a quid pro quo for years of generous support from the movement. 

Andrew McKellar, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry:
“Same Job, Same Pay is a misnomer. It’s the opposite of fair by restricting reward for effort and experience. It will take away the flexibility that workers want and businesses need. 

“Claims that labour hire workers across the economy are paid less than employees are patently false. On average, labour hire employees are earning more than their permanent counterparts. 

“Eliminating flexibility will weaken the economy, punish workers and drive up costs for consumers.” 

Samantha McCulloch, CEO of the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association:
“The Australian oil and gas industry promotes fair and equitable pay and working conditions that reward effort and experience across the diverse career opportunities available in the sector. 

“The industry is working tirelessly to provide Australian households and industry with reliable, essential energy but needs an industrial relations framework that supports operational flexibility and improved productivity to ensure competitive and affordable gas supply that is needed for Australia’s cleaner energy future.” 

Jennifer Westacott, CEO of the Business Council of Australia:
“People should be rewarded for their experience and effort, but those laws are going to make it impossible.  

“This is going to really impact on workers who are struggling with cost-of-living pressures and will also make Australia an extremely unattractive destination for people to invest - that means less jobs. 

“It will be an own goal for the country and then an own goal for workers because jobs will go somewhere else.” 

Matthew Addison, Chair of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia:
“Small Business seek to reward workers for effort, experience, loyalty and productivity.  We are very concerned that the “Same Job Same Pay” proposal will damage many employer-employee productive relationships.  We seek for Same Job Same Pay to address an identified problem and not have far reaching unintended negative consequences”

Master Builders Australia Acting CEO Shaun Schmitke:
“The use of independent and subcontracting within building and construction is a long-standing and legitimate method of engagement because of the phased way in which all building work is performed.  

“As catchy slogans mask the true consequences, the proposed industrial relations changes threaten to strip subbies and independent contractors of their autonomy to be their own boss, negotiate higher wages and conditions, and exercise the right to choose the projects they work on, free from the influence of unions. 

“The proposed changes pose a serious threat, introducing uncertainty, commercial risk, and negative consequences for the community, consumers, and an industry already grappling with disruptions, economic uncertainty, and high inflation. 

“The policy is not about closing a ‘loophole’ rather it ties the hands of the building and construction industry at a time when communities are crying out for more housing and projects to be delivered.”

Tania Constable, CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia:

“How is it fair that someone with six-months’ experience can demand the same pay as someone with six-years’ experience?  

“Our workplaces should be about fairness, reward for effort, and experience. Not a blanket approach that fails to understand that all workplaces are unique and worker ambition and values, varied. Employees should expect to be paid on their experience, skills and qualifications.  

“This dangerous ‘policy is just the latest on a long series of attacks on Australian businesses that have cumulative effect of chasing away investment and jobs, hampering our economic recovery from COVID, and undermining Australia’s role in, and beneficiary of, a once in a multi generation clean energy boom.” 

Tony Mahar, CEO of the National Farmers Federation:
“Same Job, Same Pay’ would be a red tape minefield for farmers. Most farms are small, family-run businesses which don’t have lawyers or an HR department to turn to. 

“It would spell chaos and confusion at peak periods like harvest where contractor numbers on farms can surge 500% for just a few weeks. 

“This isn’t about fairness. We can’t pretend every temporary contractor has the same value as a longstanding employee. We should be allowed to reward loyalty and experience. 

“At the end of the day, making it more complex and costly to grow food will only make life more expensive for everyday Australians.” 

Charles Cameron, CEO of the Recruitment, Consulting & Staffing Association:
“These changes will slow Australia’s speed to market.  Instead, there will be days of complex audits to determine what the same job is and whether there is even such a thing as a same pay level for that job. 

“This law will make Australia stand out for regulatory over-kill and restricted speed to market.  I’m not sure that is the investment brand we are looking for in Australia.”

ends 

Media contact details:
ACCI – Jack Quail                               E: jack.quail@acci.com.au                                M: 0498 181 207
APPEA – Patrick Lion                         E:
plion@appea.com.au                                    M: 0435 113 224
BCA – Gemma Daley                         E:
gemma.daley@bca.com.au                         M: 0418 148 821
COSBOA – Matthew Addison           E:
chair@cosboa.org.au                                    M: 0421 553 613
MBA – Dee Zegarac                           E: dee.zegarac@masterbuilders.com.au        M: 0400 493 071
MCA – Peter Kos                                 E:
peter.kos@minerals.org.au                          M: 0447 452 675
NFF – Charles Thomas                      E: cthomas@nff.org.au                                       M: 0437 962 209
RCSA – Bridget Lord                           E:
blord@rcsa.com.au                                        P:  03 9663 0555

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