Sydney, 1 November 2011– With Qantas returning to the skies today after wide-spread industrial action and an unprecedented lockout of staff, Servcorp CIO and Sales Director and small-business champion Marcus Moufarrige said that the crisis – which hurt businesses all over Australia – could have been avoided.
“The real villain in this dispute is the Fair Work Australia policy,” he said. “If we didn't have the Fair Work policy, we wouldn't have had this crisis.”
Moufarrige argued that policies should be judged on outcomes, and that what the nation had witnessed since Saturday was a national carrier in crisis, staff locked out of their jobs and an economy threatened.
He said that the current level of industrial action in Australia was proof that the Fair Work system was not working. What was required, he said, was a reasonable industrial relations policy – one which worked for both employers and employees and provided certainty.
“The flow-on effects of the Qantas dispute will continue to be felt outside the aviation industry,” he said. “From tourism operators to taxi drivers and businesses whose staff have were unable to fly home to work, the unnecessary losses will mount.”
He said that the lesson for small business was that they needed to continue to develop contingencies plans for critical service failures, while adding more flexibility to their operations.
The solution for all concerned, Moufarrige said, was an industrial relations policy that occupied the middle ground.
“For too long, the battle between the unions and advocates of deregulated labour has ensured that Australia has bounced between industrial relations laws that are either too hard on workers, or too hard on employers,” he said. “As a consequence, labour costs are too high, small businesses find it difficult to grow, and the nation is deprived of the functioning IR system we desperately need.” Moufarrige, who has worked closely with hundreds of SMEs across the globe, pointed to the entrenched political positions of Australia's major parties and their inability to compromise as the source of the issue.
He said that conservatives needed to give up extreme policies and move to the centre. The Labor Party, meanwhile, needed to de-align itself from the unions in order to find the middle ground. “What businesses and employees most want is an IR system that gets the balance right,” said Moufarrige. “It's time for vested interests to put the national interest first.”