Labor seeks to protect state govt jobs

Unions have welcomed the federal government's plan to introduce laws to protect the pay and conditions of state public servants whose jobs are transferred to the private sector.

This comes after Queensland's Liberal National Party government introduced laws to allow public-sector agencies to contract out functions performed by public servants.

Workplace Minister Bill Shorten says he will introduce changes to the Fair Work Act's "transfer of business" rules to include Queensland and NSW at next month's federal parliamentary sitting.

Currently, the rules apply only in Victoria, the ACT and Northern Territory.

"This will not stop the outsourcing or privatisation of particular entities if the Newman government decides to do that," Mr Shorten said.

"What it will do is prevent Queensland public-sector workers from being ambushed and having their existing conditions torn up and sold off at discount rates to new employers."

Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams, who held a joint press conference with Mr Shorten, said the move was good news for public servants.

"We have seen a government with a huge majority believe it can do whatever it wants," Mr Battams said.

"What this decision does is show their actions, which haven't been welcomed by Queenslanders, can be tempered by a sensible move at a federal level."

Queensland public-sector union Together state secretary Alex Scott said there was no silver bullet.

"This won't cure the government of its addiction to privatising and outsourcing our hospitals and our schools. However, it will protect some workers from some of the worst of it," Mr Scott said in a statement.

Australian Industry Group (AI Group) chief executive Innes Willox called on the federal government to fix its bad transfer of business laws, saying extending them would lead to further problems for private-sector organisations

"Far from protecting state public-sector employees, the announced changes will reduce their job opportunities," she said.

Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the federal government was seeking to politicise the difficult task of getting Queensland "back on track and back into the black."

He also claimed Mr Shorten was "trying to cushy up to his union mates".

"The states handed over their IR powers to the federal government except for the public service for the very good reason they wanted to keep Canberra away from running state public services," he told AAP.

"Leave us to run the Queensland public service."

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