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It's worth a go: Unions ready to back Morrison's industrial peace plan

Politics

Unions and bosses will work with the Federal Government on industrial relations reforms to help kickstart the economy devastated by coronavirus.

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ACTU secretary Sally McManus has promised to genuinely listen to employers.

“We’re going to give it a go and we reckon that’s worth it for working people,” Ms McManus told Nine on Wednesday.

The working group meetings are aimed at completely reshaping Australian workplaces battered by the pandemic.

The group will review awards, enterprise bargaining agreements, casual work, union and employer misconduct and greenfields – agreements that set flat wages and conditions throughout the lifetime of a construction project.

“I think for a long time we’ve been in our corners and seen things through a prism of WorkChoices really,” McManus said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was time for all parties involved to “put down their weapons”.

“It’s a consensus-based process,” Morrison told ABC radio.

Asked if he would guarantee that workers won’t be worse off as a result of the negotiations, Morrison said the debate shouldn’t be so black and white.

McManus considers the definition of secure work and flexibility in negotiations the key issues to address.

Unions will fight declines in pay or conditions but will look for common ground on enterprise agreements.

“We know this is unchartered territory under a Liberal government… we are prepared to participate in good faith,” Ms McManus said.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said employers were willing to put the past behind them.

“We are all doing this for the people who need their jobs back,” she told ABC.

Westacott welcomed news the government had ditched laws making it easier to deregister unions and ban officials.

“We need to focus on the task at hand.”

The industrial relations working group will hold a series of meetings until September.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the task now was to create jobs, not bicker about them.

“It is a process that is going to require concessions and compromises on both sides,” he told ABC.

-AAP

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