IR seminar a hit

By: Randall Johnston

Industry congregated for the annual National Industrial Relations Seminar in Canberra this week

IR seminar a hit
Minister for Employment Eric Abetz speaks at the National International Relations Seminar 2015

The National International Relations Seminar was held with all the major bus industry stakeholders represented in Canberra this week.

The seminar was run in conjunction with the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) National Technical and Suppliers Summit, with the National Industry Dinner held in the evening.

A combined total of 170 people were expected to attend all three events.

The first guest speaker for the IR seminar was Minister for Employment Eric Abetz, who spoke about the importance of the Federal Government getting its industrial relations strategy right.

"When you speak about industrial relations you are really talking about employment," he says.

"If you (the government) gets the policy wrong, that leads to households that are financially unstable and that has far reaching consequences not just for the economy but for the community.

The bus service is critical, as for many people it is the only way they can get to work and medical appointments and stay connected with other parts of the community.

 "The bus industry has a strong case for being officially recognised as an essential service," says Abetz.

He spoke of a desire to reduce power of the unions and believes they should not be allowed to enter a workplace without being invited by a union member.

"They can strike without even entering into discussions with their employer," Abetz says.

BIC executive director Michael Apps spoke about changes BIC has made through its Productivity Leadership Program.

"We focused on a range of areas including health, safety, best practice and participation of women in the workforce," he says.

"Participation of women in the workforce was an area that had not previously been focused on in the industry and we got excellent feedback from the workshops that we had on this."

Shadow Minister for Employment Brendan O’Conner spoke about the importance of the government making it easier, rather than harder for managers in the bus industry.

"We really want to focus on the promotion of public transport and the solution to unban congestion," he says.

"We are on the side of investing in public transport, that’s where the tax dollars should go.

"The current government builds roads and leaved public transport up to the individual states.

"What we have seen is the chronic neglect of public transport in our cities."

Fair Work Commission deputy president Jenny Acton spoke of the awards process and how new industry-wide employment agreements are fleshed out with industry representatives before being implemented.

"We have an extensive consultation process and really try to strike a balance between the needs too employers and their employees," she says.

Other speakers at the seminar include Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry director of workplace relations Richard Clancy, Interact Group managing director Nikki Brouwers and Piper Alderman partner Tim Capelin.

The seminar, summit and dinner were held at Hotel Realm, Canberra on March 24.

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