Workplace laws concern for key senator

Concerns have been expressed over the government’s proposed amendments to labor laws, with MPs fearing that the changes will be too hasty.

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke is pushing for companies to be legally obligated to reach an agreement with employees who require flexible working hours and multi-employer negotiations.

The minister wants the law to be approved by the end of the year.

But Independent Senator David Pocock has expressed concern over drafting errors in the bill.

The key senator says one of those mistakes is whether a majority of workers per employer or a majority of workers from all employers involved in multi-employer bargaining is needed.

Business groups are concerned about increased strikes and job losses, and the opposition has called the bill “probably the worst legislation this country will ever see.”

“Work is hastening the failed bill in Parliament,” Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash said.

“It’s nothing more and nothing less than the Labor Party handing over to its union payers.”

Mr. Burke has pledged to introduce amendments to the Multi-Employer Bargaining Bill.

But Senator Pocock proposes splitting the non-controversial parts of the bill and passing the first installment before Christmas to give Parliament more time to consider further changes.

The split would include making gender equity a goal of the Fair Work Act, creating two new committees for the Fair Work Commission, and banning wage secrecy clauses.

“It deserves further consideration,” Senator Pocock told reporters Monday.

“There are parts that we first saw on Thursday.

“To flip through hundreds of pages and then go out and check out my community, I don’t think three weeks is enough.”

Senator Pocock wants to take a detailed look at what small business laws would mean and learn more about the impact of multi-employer bargaining.

“It’s relatively new and we want to look into the details,” he said.

But he did not rule out voting for the full tranche when it comes to the Senate this year, saying it will review each bill on the merits and consult extensively.

The government needs the support of a cross member alongside the Greens to get the bill passed in the Senate.

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