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Issue #1445      3 March 2010

Innovation Councils – smart solution for major projects

At a conference in Sydney late last month the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) said that establishing innovation councils for the offshore oil and gas sectors and the transport and logistics sector may be the smart way forward in planning the workforce for major future transport infrastructure projects.

“Effective consultative arrangements will be key to arriving at the right industrial relations outcomes. A real option is the establishment of a transport and logistics industry innovation council and/or an offshore oil and gas innovation council”, said MUA assistant deputy national secretary Mick Doleman.

“It’s consistent with Labor Party policy for building competitiveness and lifting productivity in these key sectors”, said Doleman, speaking at the Lloyds List Transport Infrastructure Workshop Conference on the “Importance of increasing the workforce for fundamental future transport projects”.

“This consultative process has to be kicked off at the peak industry, union and government level to address these issues before Final Investment Decisions (FIDs) are made.

He said any negotiated framework should address the full range of labour relations issues such as bargaining principles, bargaining units and project agreements, labour supply issues (and the qualifications and licensing of the labour that is required), the up-skilling of the existing workforce to meet specific project requirements, the OHS issues and vessel safety/vessel management issues, procurement and Australian content, Indigenous employment and use of foreign labour.

Doleman said three high level strategic objectives should be in the mix in considering the workforce requirements of future major transport projects:

  • Seeking to balance labour supply with labour demand.
  • Ensuring that the supply of labour has the right mix of skills, qualifications and licenses to meet the requirements of the project.
  • Ensuring that the labour relations framework under which the labour will work is well structured.

“Collectively we don’t seem to being doing any of these things particularly well at present in major projects”, he said.   

Next article –  Safer workplaces needed to fix WorkCover

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