Local Government Association of Queensland executive director Greg Hallam.
Local Government Association of Queensland executive director Greg Hallam. Lee Constable

Govt warned IR laws set to jeopardise council jobs

THE Palaszczuk Government has been warned more than 1500 council workers' jobs are now under threat after new industrial relations' changes were passed.

The amendment overturned the Newman government's crackdown on unions and requirement to consider the state and employers' financial positions.

Local Government Association of Queensland chief Greg Hallam said the changes would make it more difficult for councils to manage their workforces.

It also puts Mackay Regional Council workers in a more precarious position, Condamine MP Pat Weir said.

"The Mackay Regional Council stated that they require consideration of their financial position, as their main source of income is rates from communities that at times have limited capacity to pay," he said.

"In quite simple terms, if any employer is not financially sustainable, the ability to continue to employ generally is quite seriously challenged."

Mr Weir said the Chamber of Commerce and Industry advised an employers' financial position should be taken into consideration when determining wage negotiations.

Labor refuted the potential 1500 job losses, saying the LNP should listen to workers not mayors and CEOs "managing" workforces.

Employment and Industrial Relations Minister Curtis Pitt said the bill restores the rights, conditions and entitlements of state and government workers so they could negotiate fair and mutually beneficial working conditions.

The changes also give senior bureaucrats the power to encourage union membership, something the Opposition fiercely argued against.

The Opposition said the amendment allowed a breach of privacy and was meant to repay Labor's "union bosses".

"I can understand the desperation of union leaders to bolster their positions with this bill, because only about 20% of workers are union members," Noosa MP Glen Elmes said.

The bill received the backing of Katter's Australian Party two MPs, Shane Knuth and Robbie Katter, and former Labor MP Billy Gordon.

Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard said two Ipswich City Council workers were pushing for the change.

"Local government workers need to retain the conditions they deserve to sustain job security for current generations and for generations to come and to get a fair day's pay for a fair day's work," she said.