Letter to The Age regarding Workplace Relations Reform

"BIG firms shun IR revolution" (The Age, 28/6) reflects a simplistic view that typifies much of the debate around workplace reform. I have, as you observed, encouraged business to embrace the reforms. But that did not mean business would implement the changes overnight or that individual agreements would replace collective agreements across the board. That some major companies have not incorporated the reforms into their workplace agreements does not detract from their importance.

Businesses will take up the reforms based on their individual circumstances and objectives. Some will progress to individual agreements while others will continue to operate under collective enterprise agreements.

The unions' campaign against WorkChoices is based on the misleading premise that the legislation is revolutionary in its effect. It is, rather, another logical step in the evolution of workplace relations that began under the Hawke government. That process has produced increased flexibility in workplaces and been responsible for the prosperity we enjoy, including an unemployment rate below 5 per cent. Over time, the latest changes will be seen to have been of benefit to national productivity and the prosperity of the workforce.