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Proposed workplace law to allow employees to apply to Fair Work Commission for flexible hours


“Caring for children and other loved ones is really important work – our employment laws should better recognize and support this work for the benefit of us all.”


During question time on Wednesday, Burke accused the former government of keeping real wages lower than they were 10 years ago and blasted shadow treasurer Angus Taylor for criticizing the change in negotiations because “it increases wages”.

“If you are a government that wants to change wages, then you make those decisions and we will represent [it] to parliament tomorrow,” Burke said.

Business groups will launch a campaign against the changes in the talksarguing that it would lead to job losses and allow unions to call for sector-wide strikes, which is prohibited by current law.

Opposition workplace relations spokeswoman Michaelia Cash said the move to multi-employer bargaining was “the most radical change to Australia’s industrial relations system in decades”.

“Industry-wide negotiations will be devastating to the Australian economy, leading to widespread strike action, including sympathy strikes by those not involved in a particular dispute. Minister Burke will forever be known as the strike minister,” she said.

Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said: “We all agree that we want pay rises. We all agree that we want to make trading easier.

“Our concern is that we end up with a more complex and complicated system that delays people’s earnings. [rising] … when I hear unions saying we want broad industrial action, I don’t think the community wants broad industrial action.”

But ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the government had been given a mandate to fix the bargaining system and increase wages.


“Some employer groups will never support a pay rise for working people, but these [inflation] the numbers show how much workers are suffering. The Albanese government has been clear during the election and since then that, unlike the last government, it will not cut wages and will act to increase wages. It is very important that this happens now.”

Other changes to be made in the Safe Jobs and Better Pay Bill are the abolition of the Australian Construction Commission, measures to close the gender pay gap and changes to the overall better life test.

The federal budget contained $7.9 million over four years from 2022 to 2023 for the Fair Work Commission to support the implementation of enterprise bargaining for small businesses and $20.2 million over four years for the commission to establish expert groups on pay and care equality and the public sector, and a specialist research unit.


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