Unions, employers fight over casual work awards

UNIONS and employer groups are locked in a battle over the rules governing casual and part-time employment in a case that forms part of the Fair Work Commission's four-yearly review of "modern awards".

The case started officially late last year and hearings began this week with more than 50 employer groups and unions battling it out over conditions applying to casual workers in many industries.

As part of the case, the FWC is hearing whether conditions such as a four-hour minimum shift should be applied to casual workers, and whether new consistent rules should apply across all casual awards.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents the biggest number of businesses in Australia, has argued against new rules applying across all industries.

Its submission challenged the hearings, arguing the various issues being considered did not meet the commission's "common issues" definition.

It argued that such decision should not be considered in the overarching four-year review, and instead be examined as part of individual award hearings.

"ACCI will strongly oppose claims for a common standard that will curtail flexibility currently available in awards and result in an additional regulatory and cost impost for employers," its submission reads.

But the peak union body, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, backed the issues being heard in the review and called for minimum four-hour shifts for all casual workers.

The ACTU also called for all casual workers to be classed as "permanent" workers after six months with an employer, to provide more job security for employees.

The case continues.

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