The federal government has reportedly secured enough crossbench support to pass its new industrial relations laws this weekend. There is real concern amongst QFF members that the Bill may have unintended consequences which ultimately could disrupt food, fibre and foliage supply chains and place downward pressure on enterprise viability.
The work done by the National Farmers Federation in advocating on behalf of agriculture and navigating “the politics” has helped deliver some positive concessions to aspects of the proposed legislation. However, QFF shares NFF’s concerns that the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill will most likely add cost and further complexity to an already complicated industrial relations system.
There is genuine concern from industry that multi-enterprise bargaining may ultimately contribute to an increased level of industrial action across the food, fibre and foliage supply chains resulting in disruptions to production which will not only impact farmers and other small businesses but also customers.
This is a supply chain that is already under enormous pressure as a result of global disruptions and natural disasters. The agricultural sector is trying to juggle escalating input costs, fertiliser shortages and extended transport and logistics delays. Any further disruptions would severely impact businesses right across the supply chain, production, and enterprise viability.
The short timeframes in considering the proposed new legislation have not allowed industry an adequate opportunity to fully understand the implications of many aspects of this complex Bill, let alone provide meaningful input.
Ultimately ‘secure jobs and better pay’ requires viable businesses, and it is critical that employers are at the table and have the opportunity to assist in shaping future policy reform in this space. The lack of consultation and involvement of the agricultural sector in the development of this Bill has been disappointing.
The government has chosen to push this through without the due consideration worthy of such important legislation, without adequate consultation or any real effort to reach a consensus.
If we are to achieve favourable conditions for all, employers and employees must be supported to come together on common ground. Any move towards an environment of increased industrial action has the potential to have a negative impact on employer-employee relations and regional communities more broadly and will place further pressure on a supply chain already under the pump.
QFF joins NFF, Growcom and other agricultural peak bodies in now calling on the government, if this Bill is passed, to at the very least, approach the implementation of this new legislation with common sense and genuine employer engagement.