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Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke said companies currently have to ask him directly for permission to make wage deals with various employers.

The government has pledged to legislate multi-employer bargaining to allow small businesses and their workers to reach wage agreements in a number of workplaces.

Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Tony Burke.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Business leaders and the opposition say the government is bowing to union demands and opening up parts of the economy to generalized strikes.

Burke told Parliament during Question Time that 22 different workplaces employing dental hygienists, dental therapists and health therapists, came to his office “needing my permission to be allowed to negotiate together “.

“So the workers want to negotiate with these employers, the 22 employers want to negotiate together, and yet we have a system of bureaucracy where it has to go all the way to the minister,” he said.

“And after I give permission, which I did today, then it has to go to the Fair Work Commission so they give permission as well.”

Burke also spoke of a group of 70 Victorian nurseries who reached an agreement to pay their workers 16% above the price. However, they must approach Fair Work separately to have the agreements ratified for each workplace.

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