Ai Group says Fair Work Act increased union power: Midday roundup

An Australian Industry Group submission to the Senate inquiry into the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 has identified 157 areas where union power has increased under the Fair Work Act and the proposed bill.

When the act came into effect in 2009, Ai Group found 37 fewer areas and chief executive Innes Willox said in a statement the bill fails to address issues of real concerns to businesses.

“The bill expands the entitlements of employees and unions in many areas including: union right of entry, bullying claims, award penalty rates, the right to request flexible work arrangements, parental leave, hours of work and rosters. Employers’ issues of concern are not addressed in the bill, and the absence of any attempt at balance is glaring,” he says.

Ai Group says there are a number of issues with the act, including narrowing the scope of bargaining claims to matters which fall within the employment relationship and implementing a more workable structure for individual flexibility agreements.

Economic growth forecasted to improve

Economic growth in the next three to nine months is predicted to strengthen, according to the latest Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Index.

The index growth rate was 4.2% in February, 1.5% higher than in September last year.

In a positive sign for the economy, the latest prediction was also significantly higher than the long term trend of 2.8%.

Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan said in a statement the economy’s growth rate has continued to improve since June last year.

“The Leading Index continues to show a clear lift in momentum since mid-2012 and points to moderately above trend growth in the first half of 2013. Our chief concern though is how well this will be sustained through the year, especially as the peak in mining investment approaches,” he says.

Intel shares drop 26%

Shares in chip maker Intel have dropped 26% overnight after the company announced a disappointing first-quarter result.

The company said net income dropped from $US2.7 billion to just $US2 billion.

The result comes as more consumers are moving from dedicated PCs to tablets and smartphones, which use different types of processing chips. Intel said it shipped 7% fewer products this year.

However, the company said it still expects to increase sales by a few percentage points this year.

Shares break over 5,000 points

The Australian sharemarket has opened higher this morning, breaking 5000 points after a strong finish from Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 43.8 points or 0.9% to 4994.6 at 12.15 AEST, while in the United States the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 157.6 points or 1.1% to 14,7567.8.

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