ACTU seems to be leading the agenda, not just from the summit but for years to come.
On the other hand, ACCI’s RI approach – unlike its engagement with unions on jobs and skills – relied on submissions.
Count on the government for moderation
This tactic is based on the acceptance that, under the Labor Party, employers come from behind to begin with, and in the hope that the Albanian government will come to an intermediate position between trade unions and employers in a tripartite manner.
Indeed, on Wednesday, a day before the summit, Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke will host a roundtable of unions and business groups to identify areas of consensus ahead of the summit.
Essentially, the ACCI is betting that the government will moderate the unions’ more radical proposals and only support sensible reform.
But that can be somewhat naïve politically.
On Monday, Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke jumped on the COSBOA-ACTU deal, saying “this is exactly the kind of cooperation we were hoping to achieve with the summit.”
Burke stressed that it is these types of employer-union agreements that will shape government opinions, not bid documents on historic positions.
Inside the tent
In the minister’s own words: “Although the summit itself doesn’t take place until Thursday and Friday this week, realistically in terms of the conversations around it, it’s been going on for a while now, and that’s what who put together a deal like this.
“I encourage the various business organizations to not just draw the lines of ‘didn’t need it in the past, I don’t want it’, and to look and see where these types of opportunities might work.”
Meanwhile, COSBOA, with 800,000 small business members, may have gotten inside the tent. He’s betting that co-op will get what he wants – a simpler reward system. That remains to be seen.
ACTU-COSBOA’s proposal is vague and lacking in detail. It is particularly unclear how this would differ from the existing provisions of the law, which already allow agreements covering multiple employers, provided they obtain an exemption from the minister.
If the reform is substantial, it will probably take several months of negotiation to iron out the details. However, sometimes the symbolism can be more important and pave the way for more ambitious reform.
The larger employer groups reacted by maintaining their opposition to sectoral or multi-employer bargaining while adopting a conciliatory tone by signaling that they would be open to correcting existing parts of the law.
But are they caring for themselves outside of the political process?
As the Albanian government has repeatedly said, “we are not looking for unanimity”.