10:30 AM WEDNESDAY
22 MAY 2013
SUBJECT/S: Workplace entitlements for fire fighters; income support; live betting odds
BILL SHORTEN: It’s great to be here with Victoria’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade fire fighters. There are hundreds of fire fighters who want to know what the difference is between the Government and the conservative opposition when it comes to workplace conditions. Fire fighters know that they need to have strong union representation to maintain and improve their conditions and safety at work. Fire fighters know that the job they do is an important job. They don’t ask for a lot, but they certainly don’t like this talk of bringing back individual contracts to the centre of workplace relations.
Certainly, they don’t like to see people mucking around with superannuation for their families and other people in workplaces. Certainly, they are very unhappy that the bushfire fighters of the Department of Sustainability, Environment – all the summer fire crews – who start working in summer to protect Victoria’s national parks and state parks from fires – all of the fire fighters and some of the protectors will now be paying a fifteen per cent tax on their superannuation.
See, all the summer fire fighters earn less than $37,000 a year. Currently they don’t pay any tax on their superannuation. Tony Abbott wants to tax summer fire crews an extra fifteen per cent on their superannuation. Also Australian fire fighters want to make sure that people are receiving 12 per cent superannuation and it’s not stalled by the Coalition. So these are important issues for fire fighters.
REPORTER: Minister, how much does the average fire fighter earn, like these men behind you?
BILL SHORTEN: It varies upon their length of service and the particular tasks they do, but fire fighters earn between something like sixty to eighty thousand dollars a year. If they’re doing long hours they can earn a little more. So anyone, by anyone’s standards – your average fire fighter, who’s not average in his skills, not average in his bravery, not average in his commitment of professionalism – these men and women who keep us safe, who rescue us, who do all the things that make our society safer – these are not highly paid professionals.
And what happens is that when you start talking about the Liberals making cuts to conditions, all of a sudden a lot of the people we depend upon say we’re looking after all Australians; who’s looking after us?
REPORTER: So how much of a pay rise do they deserve, percentage-wise?
BILL SHORTEN: That’ll be worked out between the Firefighters Union, the fire fighters and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. What I do know is that Victorian fire fighters are worth every cent they’re paid and more. They are not overpaid. They’re highly productive. They’re highly skilled. They are constantly taking on new skills and tasks. No-one doubts the hazardous nature of their work.
Fire fighters are worth every cent plus more of what they get. I hope that the Napthine Government doesn’t stuff fire fighters around the way that the Liberal Government has stuffed nurses around and stuffed teachers around and is currently messing around with paramedics. It’s not that hard to treat employees right, but the Liberal governments just find it hard to do.
REPORTER: Turning to more Federal issues, the Salvation Army has said today they’ve had a twelve per cent jump over the last year in the number of single parents seeking their help. And they say that’s because single parents are being put on to the Newstart Allowance. How worried are you about that figure?
BILL SHORTEN: It is definitely very hard to make ends meet. That is why the Government – even with the tough budgetary circumstances that we face – has introduced the Income Support Bonus which will see people on Newstart and sole parents receiving hundreds of dollars more. That’s why sole parents, under a Labor Government, receive the Schoolkids Bonus. If your kids are in primary school that’s worth four hundred dollars plus. If you’re in junior secondary school it’s worth eight hundred dollars plus.
What is amazing is that Tony Abbott wants to give the world’s richest mining companies a tax holiday, yet he says to people on Newstart and sole parents – the very people the Salvation Army have identified are doing it tough – they want to take away some of what Labor’s done, which is worth, literally, hundreds and hundreds of dollars for every sole parent on Newstart.
Also what the Federal Government’s done is provided more child care support so sole parents can find work. We’ve made sure that they can get extra money for training in the Budget as well, and they can also earn extra money and still keep all their concession cards. It’s not easy, but Labor’s offering to people on Newstart and sole parents is distinctly better than the Coalition’s.
REPORTER: But the Salvation Army has said it’s your Government’s fault that there has been that twelve per cent jump because you have put people into that different allowance, the Newstart Allowance. Do you accept that it is the Government’s fault that twelve per cent more single parents are experiencing that level of poverty?
BILL SHORTEN: I accept it would be very hard to make ends meet, but I also believe, fundamentally…
REPORTER: Because of your Government?
BILL SHORTEN: I believe, fundamentally, the best thing we can do is make sure that we get people out of the cycle of poverty. This Government, this Labor Government, doesn’t want to give up on people and say you’re too hard to find jobs for. That is why we’ve done the trifecta of extra income can be earned before your concessions are affected. The second leg of the trifecta is more education support. The third leg is more child care.
What I do accept is that if the Coalition and the conservatives, led by Tony Abbott, are successful on 14 September there goes the Schoolkids Bonus – hundreds of dollars; there goes the Income Support Bonus – hundreds of dollars. Believe me, the Liberal Party has a cold mean heart when it comes to looking after people who can’t – are less fortunate than others.
REPORTER: Are you personally comfortable with that decision to switch single parents to Newstart – personally?
BILL SHORTEN: I’m very pleased that we were able to increase the Education Supplement for sole parents…
REPORTER: But that’s a different question, Minister. I’m asking you about…
BILL SHORTEN: Well, what I’m saying – because you’re asking me what I’m comfortable with…
REPORTER: I’m asking you about the Newstart Allowance, switching parents to the Newstart Allowance. Are you comfortable, personally, with that?
BILL SHORTEN: I believe that in the tough budgetary circumstances the Labor Government is doing the best it can to assist people find work, to support sole parents. And that is why, in this Budget, we’re able to announce hundreds of millions of dollars extra for sole parents and people on Newstart. What I also know is that this election on 14 September is a two horse race, and the other horse in the race wants to cut the conditions of sole parents further and faster, harder and meaner.
REPORTER: Turning to live odds, and TV companies would like to continue live odds during breaks in the footy and the cricket. Is that acceptable?
BILL SHORTEN: Well, the status quo, what it is at the moment personally, I’m uncomfortable with the range of offerings that are available in terms of sports betting. I’m not sure that it sends the right message to our kids who are watching sport that somehow what’s important in a game of athleticism and team work and competition and effort is gambling. On the other hand, we’ve got our current policies, and this will, no doubt, be a matter for further judgment and debate in coming days and weeks.
REPORTER: Free TV Australia has suggested that normal betting ads – not just live odds, normal betting ads – could still be played during sporting segments. Isn’t it just time to bite the bullet and get rid of any gambling advertising altogether during sports broadcasts?
BILL SHORTEN: Oh, I’m not going to make a policy on the run with the ABC, but I do have a clear view that when we want to encourage our young people to watch and play sport I think the message has to be about the sport, not the punting. No-one ever got to the Olympics by being the best punter.
What we need to do is encourage our kids to have role models in sport, to look at the effort, the team work, the achievement, the hard work which goes into it. That is what sport should be about. And I think some of the other issues should take a back seat to those priorities.
REPORTER: So, just finally, it sounds like you, personally, would like to get rid of betting advertising during sport. You, personally, would like that by the sounds of it.
BILL SHORTEN: I’m a member of the Government. I know that this Government’s done more to tackle the whole range of issues on problem gambling than any of our predecessors. The record of this Government, despite a lot of the pressure we got, is a very distinguished record for tackling problem gambling and, certainly, I know our Communications Minister has worked on these issues for quite a length of time, and there will be more discussion in days and weeks to come.
REPORTER: All right. Thank you for your time.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten has addressed 250 fire and rescue workers at a meeting in Melbourne today, thanking them for the invaluable work they do.
Victorians understand, more than most, how important our fire and rescue workers are to protecting our families, our homes and our livelihoods.
Labor understands the sacrifices our fire and rescue workers and their families make every day, from rescuing kids from locked cars to saving lives and property.
That’s why under Labor the rights and entitlements of our fire and rescue workers are protected.
The Liberals only plan for workplace relations is to cut wages and conditions to the bone through unfair individual contracts.
Tony Abbott wants to take Australian workplaces back to the days of WorkChoices.
The Minister said that a crystal ball wasn’t necessary because we could see exactly how Liberals govern across the country.
The Liberals have shown that they are bad employers; their only plan is to cut essential services and jobs to the bone.
The Napthine Liberal Government in Victoria has announced it will cut $66 million from the VIC CFA budget, reducing recruitment and support staff across the state.
The Napthine Liberal Government has also refused to act and support our fire and rescue workers exposed to dangerous, cancer causing chemicals.
Fire and rescue workers around the nation, like all hard working Australians, know that Liberals cannot be trusted on workplace relations and safety.
The Gillard Labor Government has a clear plan for a fairer, stronger and smarter Australia in the future, which includes supporting our essential services workforce.
Minister for Superannuation, Bill Shorten has today said that cleaners will be amongst those employees to suffer most from Tony Abbott’s cruel and short-sighted cuts to superannuation.
Cleaners will also be amongst the most vulnerable under the Liberal Party’s plans to reintroduce unfair individual contracts; cutting wages and conditions to the bone.
There is no doubt that cleaners will be worse off under an Abbott government.
Employees who by and large rely on the mandated compulsory superannuation guarantee, like cleaners, will lose out under a Liberal government.
For those earning $37,000 or less, they will also be forced to pay tax on their superannuation contributions under the Liberals.
In contrast, the Gillard Labor Government is supporting cleaners saving for retirement by increasing the Super Guarantee from 9 per cent to 12 per cent.
The Gillard Labor Government is also boosting the retirement savings of low income earners by up to $500 a year, of which 2.2 million are women.
There are almost 160,000 commercial cleaners, and around 33,000 domestic cleaners, working full-time and part-time in Australia.
The average age of our cleaners is 47 years, compared to 39 years of age across all occupations.
Almost 6 in every 10 commercial cleaners and around 8 in every 10 domestic cleaners are women.
6 in every 10 commercial cleaners and almost 8 in every 10 domestic cleaners are also working part-time, with around 35 per cent of all cleaners earning $37,000 or less a year.
The Liberal Party’s plan to once again rip away the safety net from employees like cleaners will leave them vulnerable in workplace negotiations.
Many cleaners rely on workplace entitlements like penalty rates to make ends meet.
Almost 30 per cent of commercial cleaners and 24 per cent of domestic cleaners are born in non-English speaking countries compared to 16.7 per cent for all occupations.
Around 4 in every 10 cleaners are born overseas.
The choice at the next election couldn’t be clearer.
The Gillard Labor Government stands for a fair workplace relations system that protects the most vulnerable in our society.
The Gillard Labor Government also stands for a strong superannuation system which ensures Australians who work hard don’t retire poor.
An Abbott government will cut superannuation and entitlements at work to the bone leaving hard working Australians, like cleaners, worse off.
Mr Shorten’s media contact: Sam Casey—0421 697 660
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten today released a report on ways to improve seafarers work health and safety outcomes.
The Gillard Government commissioned the review in 2012 to ensure that the Seacare Scheme was working effectively and efficiently for Australian seafarers.
The Scheme has not been comprehensively reviewed since it was established in 1992.
“Consistent with the Gillard Government’s approach across work health and safety, we want to ensure we have an equitable and cost-effective workers’ compensation system which has an emphasis on rehabilitation and return to work.”
“The maritime industry is vital to our economy. It is important that those workers and employers covered by the Seacare Scheme have a modern, best practice scheme that reduces the risk of injury in what is an inherently dangerous industry.”
“We are committed to harmonising and modernising the Seacare Scheme to help injured workers recover quickly and return to work safely,” Minister Shorten said.
With the Government’s introduction of the national work health and safety laws, it is important to ensure the Seacare Scheme continues to provide an effective framework for rehabilitation and compensation support to injured seafarers.
“The legislation underpinning the Seacare Scheme has not kept pace with changes in harmonisation of work health and safety laws, workers’ compensation reforms or maritime industry reforms.”
“This has made the scheme complex and resulted in uncertainties in determining which vessels are covered under the Scheme and which are covered under the various state or territory schemes.”
The review conducted by Mr Robin Stewart-Crompton emphasises the complex legislative and administrative structure of the scheme and its relatively poor performance compared to similar schemes.
The report sets out 67 recommendations to improve the scheme’s coverage, governance, workers’ compensation costs and legislative inconsistencies.
A number of the recommendations seek to align the Seafarers Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992 with the changes recently proposed to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 by Mr Peter Hanks QC.
“I want to thank Mr Stewart-Crompton for his work and everyone else who contributed to the review,” Minister Shorten said.
“I will be consulting with Seacare Scheme stakeholders on the recommendations of the Review. This will help to inform our approach to harmonising and modernising the scheme for the benefit of workers and employers.”
“While the Gillard Government has a clear plan to improve health and safety in our workplaces in the future, Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party have no plans.”
The Seacare Scheme is a national scheme for a specific section of the maritime industry. There are 8000 workers and 32 employers of seafarers within the scheme.
The report is available online at: http://deewr.gov.au/seafarers-rehabilitation-and-compensation-act-review.
16 MAY 2013
SUBJECT/S: UNFAIR INDIVIDUAL CONTRACTS
SHORTEN: The Australian newspaper which reveals that the industrial relations policy godfather of the Liberal Party of Australia Peter Reith, has issued an ultimatum to Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott that unless he cuts workers conditions to the bones, he won’t be a long-term leader of the Liberal Party. Already the Liberal Party last week revealed in their policy that they want to start expanding the use of unfair individual contracts. Already the Australian Hotels Association has come out and said this is a good thing, we can tackle penalty rates and reduce conditions. Already the Australian Retailers Association this week have said this is a good thing. That we can now take away conditions from workers and offer them non-monetary benefits back.
But what is most surprising is this morning, Peter Reith has come out and said to Tony Abbott you will not be a long-term leader of the Liberal Party unless you cut workers conditions. And Peter Reith, he was the first of four industrial relations ministers in the Howard years. The other three are sitting on the front bench. They all take their instructions from him. Tony Abbott in his book, Battlelines, calls Peter Reith his brother, his brother. So his brother is – from one brother to another Peter Reith is saying memo to little brother from big brother cut workers conditions or you won’t be a long-term leader. Peter Reith’s identified, he said you’ve got to go after parental leave, you’ve got to go after unfair dismissal, you’ve got to go after penalty rates.
Tony Abbott needs to stop pretending that a choice for him on workplace relations is Labor-lite and instead admit that he would cut workers conditions to the bones. And if anyone needed to see the choice that makes the difference between the Labor Government and the Liberal’s cut conditions to the bones policies as articulated by Peter Reith, Liberal Party power broker, just see this complete circus over the fact that Michelle Rowland – Labor MP for Greenway – after four days here can’t go home at the ordinary close of Parliament in time to see her fourteen-month year old baby who the rest of her family has been having to look after.
What example is this sending employers of Australia when the Liberal Party say to a hard-working mum with a fourteen-month-year-old child we don’t respect your work-life balance, we don’t respect modern families, you cannot go home to see your fourteen-month-old child, instead you’ve got to sit in a room and listen to Tony Abbott. This is what they want to do to the nation and they’re not even in power.
Happy to take questions.
REPORTER: Peter Reith has always made his feelings clear on IR. It’s not really a surprise what he thinks. Has this really changed what Tony Abbott has said that he will take a mandate or use a mandate only to make further changes?
SHORTEN: Why is it that people think that just because we’re close to an election Tony Abbott has changed the stripes of a lifetime. He writes in his book, which he would like you to buy, that Peter Reith is his ideological brother. So on one hand Tony Abbott wants you to buy his book and pay him royalties, on the other hand he says don’t believe what’s in the book. Peter Reith was only one vote away from becoming president of the Liberal Party of Australia. And anyway, what we know is that no-one actually believes, no-one actually believes that the Liberal Party are the Labor Party on workplace relations. We all know there is a clear choice and a clear difference.
Tony Abbott has already flagged that he wants to create unfair individual contracts and expand them so they can ignore the existing matters of an enterprise agreement. He’s already said that you can have non-monetary benefits. In other words, if you are a kid at a pizza shop, the boss can pay a pizza rather than pay you the full hourly rate. Or if you work in a video rental shop, you can get, you know, tonight’s blockbuster instead of cash. That’s not the way to have arrangements in Australian workplaces. And now Peter Reith has said in what must be a remarkably arrogant bit of commentary – you know he’s the faceless power broker with a face. He has said dear Tony Abbott you will not be a Liberal prime minister for long unless you do as I say, which is cut workers conditions to the bone.
Peter Reith is going to the sort of industrial relations equivalent of Lords, he’s going to the Metal and Mines Association. He’s telling the employers put pressure on Tony Abbott, otherwise Tony Abbott won’t have a job. How do we get off on this situation? And then we see that when it comes to a relatively small matter, which should be an easy matter, modern families, mum and dad both work quite often. Modern families, mums have kids and return to work. You know, we’re not going back to the old Marriage Act bar, where married women aren’t allowed to work. So what happens here is that the Liberal Party don’t get work-life balance, they want to insist that Michelle Rowland, who’s been here for four days, who’s done her standard shift as an MP, cannot go home tonight to see her fourteen-month-year-old baby, Octavia.
Then you’ve got this circus where the Liberal Party yesterday wrote a letter and said we know your child’s unwell, you can’t go home to see her tomorrow night. And then this morning the leader of the opposition in the House of Representatives, Chris Pyne says we didn’t say what the reason was. Well, it’s in writing from Warren Entsch yesterday, a Liberal whip. And then the Liberals say, showing they really don’t get modern families, well, we don’t know which member of the family it is.
First of all, that’s a downright lie. They did know and they put in writing, they know it was her child.
But beyond that, does it really matter if it’s your child or your wife or your husband who’s sick.
You know, at some point, what message does this send to employers. What the Liberal Party is saying to employers, is look at our policies, look at how we act, we don’t believe in family flexibility.
REPORTER: When it comes to IR policy, the pressure’s been on Tony Abbott for a few years. Peter Reith’s been saying for months, if not years, what he wants. Now Tony Abbott has put out his policy. He’s appeared to have resisted that pressure. Isn’t it better to take him as to what he’s put out as actual policy rather than what you read on the sidelines?
SHORTEN: I beg your pardon. Tony Abbott has certainly given in already on extending unfair individual contracts and how they operate. So he’s already given in on that. But there is a difference when the opposition’s low in the opinion polls or doing well in the opinion polls. There is a chance that the Liberal Party will form a government in barely three months’ time. So I think now it is time to actually scrutinise what the Liberal power brokers are saying. I mean Tony Abbott did not want Peter Reith saying these things today. Tony Abbott does not want Peter Reith to say go harder. Tony Abbott does not want the retailers saying good on you for individual contracts. Tony Abbott does not want the hoteliers go after penalty rates. Tony Abbott does not want a debate on workplace relations because everyone knows that when Liberals get into power, the choice is they cut conditions.
REPORTER: The Liberals are saying this morning that Michelle Rowland put in her application for leave on Monday for Thursday. If her child was that sick, why didn’t she just leave on Monday?
SHORTEN: Oh my goodness. The Liberal Party thinks that they’re the college of surgeons. The protocol is, where possible, you give notice. I know a number of MPs who have put in for leave and yet, we are always advised put it in as early as possible. Michelle Rowland is your classic working parent. She’s relying on a network of family and friends to try and cover the gap. By Thursday afternoon, she’d had been here four days. That’s a standard shift that MPs do. Three nights away from the family and now the Liberal Party are saying – what do they want. Do they want a DNA swab? Do they want to ring the treating GP? What message are the Liberal Party sending modern employers that you have to interrogate. Everyone knows that Michelle Rowland has got a fourteen-month-year-old child. Everyone knows that mothers do not exaggerate their kids being ill to gain an advantage.
I think some of the good old boys of the Liberal Party collective need to understand that modern families come in all shapes and sizes. And you know, to be honest, Michelle Rowland can watch what Tony Abbott has to say on the television anyway. I mean Tony Abbott doesn’t really need Michelle Rowland as a sort of hostage audience to state his views. This is about work-life family balance. The Liberal Party said last Thursday we learnt the lessons of WorkChoices. Yet, they’re making it easy to pay people without having them pay money but pay them in kind. The retailers love it because they can go after people’s conditions, that the hoteliers say this is good, we can go after penalty rates. Peter Reith is saying Tony Abbott you’ve got an ultimatum, you won’t be a long-term Liberal Prime Minister – who is he to threaten the Liberal leader of Australia.
And then you’ve got a very basic example where a working woman, who could be a working parent, has said listen I’ve done my four days, I want to go home and see my fourteen-month-year-old child on the Thursday night. And now the Liberal Party is saying listen we’re experienced doctors, we want to see all the medical evidence. This is a circus.
REPORTER: What is your reaction to Craig Thomson cutting ties with the Labor Party?
SHORTEN: Look, what Craig Thomson does is up to him.
REPORTER: He does say though that the party has abandoned him. Do you think that’s correct?
SHORTEN: What Craig Thomson does is up to him. He’s made his choice and there’s nothing more I can meaningfully add to that.
REPORTER: An unwelcome distraction though?
SHORTEN: I think the big issue this week has been the fact that the Liberal Party cannot explain how they will pay for their promises. They’re going to hand back a tax to the biggest mining companies in Australia. They’re going to reward the largest carbon-polluting companies in Australia. They’ve got a $70-billion blackhole and they’re running out of time to find which sofa they’ve hidden the money behind to pay for their promises. So I think that’s the big issue. And the Liberal Party want us to – they’re like the old magicians, the razzle dazzle – don’t look at me, just look at my distraction. And I just think that on workplace relations, this argument they’re running that somehow they’re just Labor in another suit and they’re not going to do anything bad to anyone and everyone will have a happy ending. Well, the fact of the matter is people like Peter Reith run the Liberal Party. People like Peter Reith represent what the Liberals will do when they get into power. Tony Abbott, he’s already backing unfair individual contracts.
REPORTER: Probably not going to be helpful for Craig Thomson to be appearing on the election campaign?
SHORTEN: Guys, you can cover – you can look at whatever matters. But what I know is that for working Australians, this example today that a working mum is being stuffed around by the Liberal Party for the pursuit of power when they want to go and see their sick child, means they don’t understand modern families. And also that’s the choice you’ve got in Australia. The Liberals want to cut working conditions to the bone. We want to make sure that Australian workplaces are smatter, stronger and fairer. They’re the real issues. Thanks very much.
- ENDS –
Mr Shorten’s Media Contact: Jessica Lindell 0408 642 804
In a speech to the Australian Mines and Metals Association today, former Liberal industrial relations minister Peter Reith will reveal the Liberal Party’s workplace hit list that will rip pay and conditions from Australian workers.
It’s a ‘greatest’ hits list that will send a shiver up the spine of every Australian worker, with the return of unfair individual contracts at its core.
Peter Reith, the ideological godfather of Liberal IR policy, has also confirmed that penalty rates and unfair dismissal protections are on this Liberal Party hit list.
As quoted in a media report, Peter Reith, will tell the Australian Mines and Metals Association today –
“Do not let up on the issues:
- individual agreements,
- protected industrial action,
- adverse action,
- the details on trade union right of entry and greenfield agreement making,
- penalty rates,
- unfair dismissal,
- paid parental leave and
- anything else that undermines your right to manage your business in a private sector economy.”
Issuing an ultimatum to Tony Abbott, Peter Reith demanded more radical workplace policy changes if he wins the election.
“Once in government, Abbott will find that the quality of his management, including vital IR reform, will determine his future. And in that regard, the sooner he fixes the IR system the longer he will last as PM.”
On page 47 of his policy manifesto, Battlelines, Tony Abbott describes Reith’s role within the Liberal family:
“Reith, in fact, acted as a political ‘elder brother’ to many of his colleagues and was a big loss to the government after the 2001 election.”
Peter Reith preceded Tony Abbott in the workplace relations portfolio. The next two Liberal workplace relations ministers, Kevin Andrews and Joe Hockey, are on Mr Abbott’s frontbench.
They all believe in cutting wages and conditions to the bone through unfair individual contracts.
Extreme workplace relations policies are in every Liberal’s DNA.
MEDIA CONTACT: Sam Casey 0421 697 660
A peak hospitality industry group has enthusiastically embraced Tony Abbott’s proposed changes to workplace laws according to a new media report today.
The Australian Hotels Association has today said individual flexibility arrangements being pursued by the Liberal Party would go further than Labor’s laws and would provide a mechanism to extend trading hours without paying penalty rates.
These revelations will send a shiver down the spine of every Australian hospitality worker.
This is further evidence that under the Liberal Party unfair individual contracts would be back with a bullet, putting pay and conditions under direct threat.
There are around 262,800 hospitality workers and 167,400 kitchen hands across Australia who rely on penalty rates to make ends meet.
The Liberal Party’s policy document clearly outlines their intention to detach Individual Flexibility Arrangements (IFAs) from Enterprise Agreements and undermine the Better Off Overall Test by allowing ‘non-monetary benefits’.
Page 27 of the Liberal’s policy states:
“The ability for an IFA to be restricted by the terms of an
enterprise agreement will be abolished.”
Page 36 of the Liberal’s policy supports:
“changes to improve the application of the ‘Better Off Overall Test’
to appropriately account for non-monetary benefits.”
Tony Abbott needs to come clean on secret deals he has done which will see wages and conditions stripped away, important protections undermined and parents punished if they need to care for their kids.
At its core, the Liberal Party believes in driving down wages and conditions through unfair individual contracts.
In the chapter of Tony Abbott’s policy manifesto aptly named Unfinished Business, it states:
“WorkChoices wasn’t all bad.”
Under Work Choices, 100 per cent of Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) ripped away at least one so called ‘protected award condition’. Things like penalty rates, allowances, rest breaks and public holidays.
Under Work Choices, 63 per cent of AWAs ripped away penalty rates; 64 per cent ripped away leave loading and 40 per cent cut rest breaks.
Australian hospitality workers know the Liberals can’t be trusted on workplace relations.
In contrast, under the Gillard Government penalty rates cannot be stripped away by unfair individual contracts.
MEDIA CONTACT: Sam Casey 0421 697 660
Some of Australia’s most vulnerable workers—most of them women—will enjoy greater workplace protections under an extension of the Gillard Government’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee.
From tomorrow, outworkers in the textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry will have their unpaid entitlements protected if their employer goes into bankruptcy or liquidation.
“Employees are often given little to no warning when a company goes under,” Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, said.
“This is our way of trying to ensure they are not disadvantaged through situations they have no control over.”
The Fair Entitlements Guarantee locks in financial assistance for workers when their employer goes into liquidation and is unable to pay employee entitlements.
Protected unpaid entitlements include:
- up to 13 weeks of unpaid wages;
- annual leave;
- long service leave;
- payment in lieu of notice – maximum of five weeks; and
- redundancy – maximum of four weeks per full year of service.
“The entitlements of Australian workers, including vulnerable TCF contract outworkers, are now better protected than ever before,” Minister Shorten said.
The extension of the Fair Entitlement Guarantee to TCF contract outworkers will cost $1.2 million over five years.
“These new protections are another example of this Government’s commitment to ensuring workers in this industry receive fair and decent conditions,” Minister Shorten said.
Parliamentary Secretary for Workplace Relations Senator Jacinta Collins said the new Fair Entitlements Guarantee Regulation complements amendments to the Fair Work Act in July last year.
“Those changes delivered nationally consistent rights and legal protections to TCF workers for the first time,” Senator Collins said.
“As a result, the chance of contract outworkers in the TCF sector losing their entitlements has been greatly reduced.”
In stark contrast to Labor’s support for Australian workers, Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party voted against the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Act last year and proposed an amendment to reduce entitlements for long-serving employees.
This budget makes the smart investments for our future, puts jobs and economic growth first and protects the important services that Australians rely on.
The Gillard Government is doing this to keep our economy one of the most resilient in the world – we have low unemployment, solid growth, contained inflation and low interest rates.
For more information about the Fair Entitlements Guarantee, visit: http://deewr.gov.au/fair-entitlements-guarantee-feg
Mr Shorten’s Media Contact: Sam Casey — 0421 697 660
Senator Collins Media Contact: Jonathon Davies — 0409 354 493
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten today announced additional funding for the Queensland Working Women’s Service (QWWS).
QWWS is a not-for-profit community organisation with specialist workplace relations expertise providing free and confidential services for female workers.
The Gillard Labor Government will provide $776,000 over three years from 1 July 2013 to ensure the Queensland Working Women’s Service (QWWS) continues to be able to help some of the State’s most vulnerable working women.
This follows $200,000 provided by the Australian Government in July 2012 to fill the funding gap left by the heartless cuts made by the Queensland Newman Government.
“The Gillard Government recognises the vital services and advice QWWS provides to some of Queensland’s most vulnerable workers,” Mr Shorten said.
“Labor is committed to creating fairer workplaces and a strong economy where all workers are given the same opportunities.”
“Our commitment to QWWS and vulnerable workers in Queensland stands in stark contrast to the approach of the LNP Newman Government which has been cutting services to the bone.”
Mr Shorten said the extra funding will bring annual Commonwealth investment in QWWS to over $550,000 a year.
“Some of the valuable services provided by QWWS to the Queensland community include self-help information sessions for people representing themselves before the Fair Work Commission, evening legal advice services, and community legal education and research services,” Mr Shorten said.
“This includes specialised expertise in understanding the cultural and social complexities faced by Indigenous women in the workplace, and providing assistance to Indigenous women which is tailored and confidential to address their specific needs.”
Other services provided by QWWS include helping women in home based employment and low paid work, with disability, in regional or remote areas, re-entering the workforce and sole income earners.
QWWS is one of five Community Based Employment Services (CBEAS) currently funded by the Australian Government.
“Last year the Gillard Government committed to providing $7.1 million over four years to ensure CBEAS can continue to deliver services to Australia’s most vulnerable workers,” Mr Shorten said.
The other four organisations are jointly funded by the Commonwealth and the states and include Working Women’s Centres in South Australia and the Northern Territory, the Employment Law Centre of Western Australia, and JobWatch in Victoria.
This budget keeps our economy strong, makes the smart investments for our future and ensures every Australian gets a fair go.
The Gillard Government are investing for the future, putting jobs and economic growth first and protecting the important services that Australians rely on, including those provided by the QWWS.
Minister Shorten’s Media Contact: Sam Casey 0421 697 660
The Gillard Government will invest more than $10.5 million to deliver a national approach to protect Australians from asbestos-related diseases.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten said Australia’s history of widespread asbestos use has left a deadly legacy of asbestos-containing material in our cities and towns.
“Asbestos is a cruel, indiscriminate killer, and because of its widespread use over much of the 20th century, it remains a persistent threat to Australians,” Mr Shorten said.
In 2010, 642 Australians died from mesothelioma, and for every death attributed to mesothelioma, it’s estimated two further people die from lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
“Over the next 20 years, up to 40,000 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. There are children not yet born who’ll die of an asbestos-related disease.”
Earlier this year, Minister Shorten introduced legislation to establish the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency which will work with and have representatives from all levels of government, as well as unions, industry and support groups to implement a national plan of action to protect Australians from asbestos.
“This is an example of this Government’s commitment to protect Australians by leading the first nationally coordinated approach to handling asbestos beyond our workplaces.”
Asbestos cement materials were made in Australia from 1917 to the mid-1980s so even the very youngest asbestos cement roof has been subjected to over twenty years of weathering, heat, cold, rain, hail and winds. All Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) will eventually become friable and once air borne there are no means of making an asbestos fibre safe.
Minister Shorten said the Gillard Government would continue to invest in initiatives like this to ensure we build a smarter, stronger and fairer Australia.
One of the first tasks for the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency will be the implementation of a plan to tackle illegal dumping, to encourage safe disposal across Australia, and to develop a strategy for the staged removal of ACMs from government and commercial buildings.
The establishment of an independent national agency was a key recommendation of the Asbestos Management Review of 2010.
The Review made it clear that we must act quickly to prevent further Australians from being exposed to deadly asbestos fibres and put in place a plan to address identification of asbestos containing materials in buildings, asbestos removal, handling and storage and asbestos awareness and education.
The Government established the Office of Asbestos Safety in August 2012 to commence work with states, territories and other stakeholders to develop the new national strategic plan by 1 July 2013.
The Bill to establish the agency is currently before the House of Representatives. It is the Government’s intention that the agency will commence operations from 1 July 2013.
Mr Shorten’s Media Contact: Sam Casey—0421 697 660