Government willing to deal on IR laws

Federal Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard will today hold a series of meetings with key senators in a bid to ensure that the Government’s Fair Work bill gets through the Senate. While Gillard has previously said she is willing to accept only “technical amendments” to the law, she will today meet with Greens Senators Bob Brown and Rachel Siewert, Family First Senator Stephen Fielding and Independent Senator Nick Xenophon to discuss the bill’s passage.

“I believe that the Greens and Senators Fielding and Xenophon respect the Australian people’s decision,” Gillard told the ABC.

“They respect our mandate to get rid of Work Choices and put the Fair Work bill into law.”

The bill must pass the Senate in the next fortnight before Parliament’s autumn session, or there could be delays to the new regime starting on 1 July.

Exactly how much resistance the powerful senators have to the bill is unclear.

Fielding said last week that he expects the bill will pass the Senate, although he admitted he will be looking at some amendments to ensure that unions do not receive too much power under the new regime.

The Greens would like to see tougher unfair dismissal laws and an immediate introduction of a paid maternity leave scheme, but they are unlikely to get their way.

Meanwhile, Restaurant & Catering Australia president Peter Doyle has warned changes to award conditions will cost 8000 hospitality jobs and force 1000 restaurants out of business.

“Whilst the Government may be disgusted at the job losses in one case, they are actively pursuing an initiative that will see four times the jobs lost through our modern award,” he told AAP.

“In these economic times it just doesn’t make sense.”



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