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News News WA to allow "take-it-or-leave it" statutory individual agreements
In the wake of announcing yesterday that WA won’t refer its IR powers to Canberra, state Commerce Minister Troy Buswell has today called for the Federal Government to allow employment to be made conditional on signing an individual flexibility agreement, and revealed that he wants similar provisions in the state’s individual agreements stream, which will get a makeover.

Appearing today before the Senate inquiry into the Fair Work Bill in Perth, Buswell, whose portfolio includes IR responsibilities, said the conditional offering of individual flexibility agreements was necessary to ensure that the working conditions of new employees aligned with those of existing employees working under individual flexibility agreements. 

He said if the prevailing employment instrument in the workplace was an individual flexibility agreement, and the legislation adequately protects employment rights, then making employment conditional on signing such an agreement shouldn’t be a problem. 

Committee chair, Labor Senator for Victoria, Gavin Marshall, asked Buswell why, if individual flexibility agreements are to be beneficial to both parties, they should be able to be offered on a "take-it-or-leave-it" basis. 

Buswell cited an example in which existing employees had altered their starting and finishing times via individual flexibility agreements (IFAs) and that is how the business operates”. 

“And a new employee comes along who.. cannot really accept that particular condition... my view is, if they’re not prepared to accept the IFA that may have specific application in that business then don’t work there”. 

Marshall responded that Buswell was demonstrating a “clear misunderstanding” of IFAs - “they are individual”. 

Buswell shot back that there are plenty of workplaces where group of workers are covered by IFAs that don’t constitute collective agreements. 

Answering a question from Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash about how employees would be protected if offered employment conditional on signing an award flexibility agreement, Buswell said such agreements would have to pass the BOOT, while employees could also terminate the agreements on four weeks notice. 

He told journalists outside the conference that the federal legislation “allows for flexible, individual agreements”, with safeguards, and “I’m confident that Julia Gillard will make sure those safeguards are appropriate”. 

He said he was a very strong supporter of flexibility in the workplace, “with the proviso that employers are protected.” 

Labor Senator Doug Cameron asked Buswell about how the IFAs would work in practice and wasn’t satisfied with Buswell’s reply. Senator Cameron fired back to Buswell: “So it’s my way or the highway, back to Work Choices?” 

reprinted from Workplace Express

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