ACTU calls for stronger IR laws and OHS standards

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ACTU calls for stronger IR laws and OHS standards

The ACTU has challenged the nation’s IR Ministers to back stronger workplace laws and a harmonised national OHS system based on the highest possible standards.

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The ACTU has challenged the nation’s IR Ministers to back stronger workplace laws and a harmonised national OHS system based on the highest possible standards.
 
The Workplace Relations Ministers' Council (WRMC) met last night and was expected to discuss the new IR legislation currently before a Senate Inquiry.
 
ACTU president Sharan Burrow said unions are calling on the WRMC to support the Fair Work Bill, including amendments that would strengthen protections and rights for workers.
 
‘The new laws should include genuine rights for employees to access unions at work and for unions to be able to inspect payroll and other records when workers suspect they are being underpaid,’ Burrow said.
 
Bargain on OHS and unfair dismissals
 
‘Workers must also have the right to collectively bargain on any matter, including improved health and safety and unfair dismissal provisions.’
 
Burrow said that in tough economic times some employers may try to make short cuts with health and safety, or fail to treat their workers fairly.
 
‘We especially need strong new IR laws to protect workers in the current environment and there should be no delay in the Parliament passing an amended IR Bill,’ she said.
 
The WRMC was also expected to discuss the final report of the National Review of OHS Laws.
 
‘It is vital that the national, harmonised health and safety laws are based on the highest possible standards,’ Burrow said.
 
Prosecute employers
 
‘This should include providing workers with the right, through their unions, to initiate prosecutions against employers when there are serious health and safety breaches.'
 
‘In the past, union prosecutions have been few in number but have secured important improvements for employees who work in potentially dangerous situations.’
 
Burrow said Australia also needed a truly tripartite, well resourced national workplace health and safety watchdog that is able to set, monitor, and upgrade health and safety standards.
 
Call for asbestos Inquiry
 
The ACTU also called on the Federal Government to work with the states and territories to set up a National Asbestos Inquiry to examine the use and management of asbestos removal from private and public dwellings and infrastructure.
 
‘The Victorian bushfires serve as a timely reminder that asbestos is an ongoing danger to the public,’ Burrow said.
 
‘We need a national register of asbestos-contaminated infrastructure and property and a national program to accelerate its removal and to fast-track compensation and legal remedies for asbestos victims.’
 
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