VFF urges cross-bench Senators to scrutinise new industrial relations laws

The VFF has warned cross-bench Senators that changes to allow multi-enterprise bargaining arrangements could have unforeseen impacts on the agriculture industry.

VFF President Emma Germano has written to crossbench Senators who will decide the outcome of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 asking them to split the legislation and deal with controversial elements at a later time.

“It is critical that the Senate, as the Parliament’s house of review, does not rush into making changes to enterprise bargaining laws which could have far-reaching and unintended consequences for productivity across all Australian industry,” the letter stated.

“In a state where so much of our food and fibre is exported from major ports, Victorian agriculture is particularly exposed to the fall-out and secondary impacts caused by industrial strife.”

“Disagreements between unions and stevedores have had significant effects on our supply chains and ultimately farm business costs.”

“This has been evidenced through the Productivity Commission’s findings that stevedores, shippers and the unions all have significant and unbalanced bargaining power and have no issue shifting costs to the end users such as farmers, and that reform is required.”

The VFF has encouraged the Senators to engage with industry leaders to ensure a workable balance could be achieved.

In response to the VFF’s request, key independent Senators Jaqui Lambie and David Pocock have indicated the support for splitting the bill and dealing with the controversial elements in 2023.