MEMBER for Mallee Andrew Broad hopes a Productivity Commission review of the industrial relations system will take into account seasonal harvesting jobs in the Wimmera.
The broad-ranging review will examine a variety of aspects within the system including penalty rates, the minimum wage, enterprise bargaining, unfair dismissal and workplace bullying.
Mr Broad stressed the review was independent of government.
‘‘If you look across the electorate, there’s lots of examples where things are seasonal,’’ he said.
‘‘When the job’s on, the job’s on. It doesn’t always fit within designated nine to five hours and I’d be disappointed if we had a system that limited or didn’t give recognition to that.
‘‘The very nature of harvest is that they’re busy and long hours and there are also down times.’’
Mr Broad said he did not want to pre-empt the findings of the review, but hoped it would find a way to boost employment.
‘‘We want our coffee shops and hospitality industry to consider it worthwhile to open at times when tourists come,’’ he said.
‘‘We need to ensure there’s job opportunities for our uni students and high school students who work parttime.
‘‘Often jobs in hospitality are a great opportunity for young people to develop their work ethic, earn a bit of money and lift their skills.
‘‘There’s got to be fair pay for fair effort – that’s why we have the review committee.’’
Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said unions would use the review to try to argue for better pay for employees.
‘‘Unions will oppose any move to cut wages, while measures to stop the lowest paid Australians from falling further behind the middle will form part of the council’s submission,’’ she said.
She accused the government of using the inquiry as a tool to pursue its obsession with workplace relations and issues such as penalty rates and individual contracts.
‘‘The government wants this process to take workers backwards but we are determined to push for improvements,’’ she said.
Mr Broad said the council would have a chance to make a submission to the commission, but warned against conspiracy theories about the government’s intentions.
‘‘This is mandated review, not a government-implemented review,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re not a third-world country, we do pay people well, we have the Fair Work Commission and mandated reviews to look at these things.’’
Mr Broad said the council was drawing a long-bow in its claim the review was a mechanism for the government to make changes to the industrial relations system.
The commission’s report is due to be handed down in November 2015.
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