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HomeSunset Host CoWage theft a Trojan horse for harder to sell IR changes

Wage theft a Trojan horse for harder to sell IR changes


These, which include a crackdown on labour hire, especially by miners and airlines, a crackdown on employing people as casuals, and myriad other changes such as increased right of entry for unions, are far more impenetrable to the lay person in terms of detail.

Businesses, large, medium and small, are opposed to some or all of these measures.

“Let’s not sugar coat it. These industrial relations changes are some of the most extreme interventionist workplace changes that have ever been proposed in Australia,” Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable told the annual Minerals Week dinner in Canberra on Monday night.

“When you distil these extensive changes to industrial law, you are left with one defining outcome – higher costs for everyone.”

To back those words, the broad business coalition fighting the laws will release a new wave of ads on Wednesday aimed at the average punter’s hip pocket.

The disconnect between the miners and the government was on full display at the miners’ dinner, where Anthony Albanese said a willingness to work with business “has been the focus of our constructive engagement on industrial relations reform”.

The Coalition is likely to vote against the entire bill unless the government is prepared to hive off elements such as the criminalisation of wage theft.

Of course, splitting the bill is not the government’s starting point and if the Coalition votes against it because of the labour hire or casual provisions, the government will accuse it of supporting wage theft and slave-like conditions for delivery riders.

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke is not totally dismissive of the barrage coming his way. Over the weekend, he announced a handful of exemptions and other concessions to try to soften the criticism and, curiously, the new laws do not begin until November 2024.

Given there is usually a lag time between the onset of new IR laws and the actual effects, this timetable, a cynic might suggest, would ensure any consequences, unintended or otherwise, would not be apparent until after the next election, due by early 2025.

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