Coalition forging ahead with work reforms

Disagreements among industrial relations working groups are
Disagreements among industrial relations working groups are "not unexpected", Scott Morrison says.

The Morrison government is ploughing ahead with workplace law reform despite a major bust-up between employer groups.

An agreement between the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Business Council of Australia sparked divisions in the government's industrial relations working groups.

Four employer groups angrily rejected a plan to give union-negotiated enterprise agreements approval preference in exchange for changes to the "better off overall test".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison played down the split.

"There's been a few disagreements along the way - not unexpected - but at the same time people have remained at the table," he told the National Press Club in Canberra on Thursday.

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter, who is also attorney-general, is drafting an industrial relations reform plan for cabinet.

The working groups looked at casual employment, greenfields agreements, enterprise agreements, award simplification and compliance and enforcement.

Labor jobs spokesman Brendan O'Connor said the government could achieve progress if it found areas of mutual benefit.

"If it is about wage cutting or making work more insecure then there will be no consensus. Labor won't stand by and watch workers lose wages or lose job security," he told Sky News.

He said the pandemic had exposed the insecure nature of work across many sectors.

Mr Morrison has spent the week criticising the maritime union over a dispute with stevedoring company Patrick at Sydney's Port Botany.

"Ensuring that we have an industrial relations systems that can employ more people, particularly now, is so crucial," he said.

"We can't have the rather militant response and approach that we're currently seeing out there in Port Botany."

The MUA on Thursday suspended its industrial action.

Australian Associated Press