ACTU urges Govt to reject amended IR Bill

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ACTU urges Govt to reject amended IR Bill

The ACTU has described the amendments to the Fair Work Bill passed in the Senate last night as ‘unacceptable’ and has urged the government to reject them when the House of Representatives votes later today.

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The ACTU has described the amendments to the Fair Work Bill passed in the Senate last night as ‘unacceptable’ and has urged the government to reject them when the House of Representatives votes later today.
 
The Opposition and the two independent Senators combined to force through amendments to define a small business as one having fewer than 20 full-time equivalent positions.
 
‘The Government wanted the cut-off to be fewer than 15 employees, regardless of whether they are full time or part time.'
 
Under the legislation small business has a more flexible ability to sack workers, with a 12 months probation period in which an unfair dismissal claim cannot be made.
 
Worse than WorkChoices’
 
ACTU president Sharan Burrow said the amendment that would leave more than a million workers with less protection from being unfairly sacked.
 
‘The bill, in its current form, is unacceptable,’ she said.
 
‘It's almost as bad if not worse than WorkChoices.’
 
Burrow said it is immoral to reduce workers’ job security and expose people to being sacked unfairly during a worsening economic situation.
 
‘The Government should reject the Senate change in the Lower House,’ she said.
 
‘Last night’s vote by Coalition and cross-bench Senators is an affront to everyone who voted against WorkChoices and who want to see workers’ rights restored.'
 
‘This is absolutely the wrong time to be reducing protections from being unfairly sacked. Workers need more job security not less during the downturn.’
 
Burrow said too many businesses are rushing to lay off workers when they should be trying harder to maintain jobs and ride out the downturn.
 
‘Instead of pandering to the business community that got us into the current mess the Senate should be voting to restore workers’ rights and regulate for greater job security,’ she said.
 
Undermine job security’
 
Burrow said the Senate amendment to how a small business is defined would have a much bigger impact than it first seems and would significantly undermine job security in the workforce.
 
Burrow specifically rejected the change to ‘full-time equivalent’ employees rather than the total number of employees.
 
‘This is an accounting sleight-of-hand that will mean even medium to large businesses, particularly those that have a lot of part time staff — including many young people and women workers in the retail and hospitality industries — will fit into the Senate’s wider definition,’ she said.
 
‘It is not only less fair, but more complex for everyone concerned. The difficulty in calculating the number of "full time equivalent" employees will leave both workers and employers in the dark as to their respective rights and obligations.’
 
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