The federal election campaign is underway. We already know the Big Unions will forcefully advocate for industrial relations changes, but what about the Business Council of Australia and the top end of town? Will they come out of hibernation and get back into the game on IR reform? If recent history is a guide, you couldn’t bet your house on it.
The CEO of the BCA, representing the top 100 companies in Australia is frustrated about the amount of “business bashing” taking place and has stated “enough is enough”. If only the BCA and its members demonstrated the same passion for IR reform.
The BCA has a long history as the preeminent representative of employers in Australia and as a strong advocate for simple, flexible and competitive industrial relations laws.
As such they have always sought to achieve bold IR reforms. Taking a closer look at the recent record of the BCA and its members though, it would appear that the BCA have vacated the role of advocating for IR reform in preference for concentrating their efforts on social and environmental issues.
Upon closer examination, there are more questions than answers in relation to the businesses represented by the BCA, and the behaviour and decisions of those companies CEOs and their boards:
- Which of them are willing to advocate for a more simplified, competitive and flexible industrial relations system?
- How many look the other way when their companies engage in “sweetheart” deals with Big Unions?
- How many are overly close with big unions to the detriment of the small business employees and at odds with what is best for the wider Australian community?
- How many are funding big unions, who in turn use those funds to contribute to election campaigns, leading to industrial relations laws that are more favourable to Big Unions?
- How many complain after more complex, restrictive, union friendly and less flexible industrial relations laws are introduced?
Let’s hope that the BCA and big business both get their mojo back and get back into the game of bold IR reform – failing which it will fall yet again to small business to carry the burden of advocating for simple, flexible, competitive and fairer industrial relations laws during the federal election campaign and beyond.
Sam Puri is the industrial advocate for the Printing Industries Association of Australia
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