I had been waiting anxiously to advise all Workplace Advisory Group clients and readers of this blog about the industrial relations policy that a Shorten Labor Government would implement when it took office. I’d hoped the ALP National Conference would give me some meaty content upon which to blog.

I got that wrong! Bill Shorten has announced the IR policy will be the subject of “extensive consultation” before the detail is known and published. Hmmm.

It is tricky to speculate, particularly when we have only just started the New Year! However here are some things that we do know about the industrial relations scene in a Labor Party context:

  1. The unions are unhappy with the current system. One way or the other, the current system will have to change if a Labor Government is elected.
  2. There has been endless chat from the unions about “industry bargaining”, a sort of Back to the Future push. Will a Labor Government take us back to the early 1980’s when industry bargaining was the only system in existence? I do not think that the current system will go unchanged but nor do I think that there will be wholesale return to industry bargaining. I think a Labor Government will try for a mixed system.
  3. The unions want an enhanced right to take industrial action. The unions are sick of having to ask permission to take industrial action and then only during Enterprise Agreement negotiations. I think that in the consultation phase this one will be a Big Ticket Item. Watch this space.

Hopefully we get some further titbits from the ALP in early 2019. It is frustrating having to speculate based on what is available now. The one thing I do believe I can say with certainty is that the current IR system will change substantially under a Shorten Labor Government. Interesting times lie ahead.