Attacks mount as WorkChoices reality hits

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Attacks mount as WorkChoices reality hits

Prime Minister John Howard is holding a gun to the heads of Australian workers and telling them that if they don’t accept lower wages and conditions they will lose their jobs, according to ALP shadow IR spokesman Stephen Smith.

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Prime Minister John Howard is holding a gun to the heads of Australian workers and telling them that if they don’t accept lower wages and conditions they will lose their jobs, according to ALP shadow IR spokesman Stephen Smith. Meanwhile, the Howard Government is dodging the truth about the real impact of the new industrial relations laws by failing to explain to the Australian public that workers can now be sacked for no reason whatsoever, the ACTU claims.

Howard holding a gun to the head of Australian workers, says ALP

Prime Minister John Howard is holding a gun to the heads of Australian workers and telling them that if they don’t accept lower wages and conditions they will lose their jobs, according to ALP shadow IR spokesman Stephen Smith.

Sack and rehire

Smith said Howard and Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews are saying that some employers may have ‘jumped the gun’ by sacking employees and then rehiring them at a lower cost.

‘The problem for Australian employees is that this is not about employers jumping the gun, it’s all about John Howard’s legislation holding a gun to their heads,’ he said.

‘They have said that under their interpretation of the legislation that you can’t be sacked and then reinstated or re-employed on inferior terms and conditions.

‘What that will mean in reality is that you can be sacked and someone else will take your job at lesser terms or lesser conditions. You can be sacked on a whim and the lowest bidder gets your job.'

No real choice

‘An employer will go to an employee and say we would like to take you to different terms and conditions, renegotiate our current arrangement.

‘And the choice for him will be take the job at lesser terms, lesser wage and reduced conditions.’

Smith said Howard and Andrews had confirmed that for Commonwealth employees on a union negotiated certified agreement, ‘they’ll be offered an AWA and no union’.

‘And if they don’t take the AWA on lesser terms and conditions, then they’ll sit on the current certified agreement. In other words, if you don’t do what we say, then we freeze your pay.’

Workers can be sacked for ‘no reason whatsoever’, says ACTU

The Howard Government is dodging the truth about the real impact of the new industrial relations laws by failing to explain to the Australian public that workers can now be sacked for no reason whatsoever, the ACTU claims.

Commenting on an interview on ABC radio this morning by Employment Minister Kevin Andrews, ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

‘The Minister was directly asked whether an employee could be sacked for “no reason” and he dodged the question. Andrews knows that the answer is yes, anyone who works for a company with 100 or less employees can be sacked for no reason.’

Happening already

Burrow said this is how eight workers at Melbourne cable manufacturer Triangle Cables have been sacked. The workers - some of whom had worked for the company for more than 12 years - were handed a letter simply stating ‘your services are no longer required’ and ‘consequently you are terminated forthwith’.

She said the Howard Government needs to ‘come clean with the Australian people and explain the real impact of its new laws.

‘Not only is no reason required to sack someone in small and medium businesses, but no warning need be given and the worker has no come-back.

‘No reason, no warning and no come-back - you are fired. That is the cold hard reality of the Howard Government’s new industrial relations laws,’ Burrow said.

Transcript

(The ACTU issued the following transcript of the Andrews interview:

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And what’s your view about workers being sacked and given no reason? Do you think that workers should be told why they’re being sacked?


KEVIN ANDREWS: Look, people are dismissed every day of the year. There’s not something new about this. I don’t know how many people would be dismissed in any year, but it’s not something new. There are some relationships that don’t work out and that’s the reality and I think we all know that...)

More examples

The ACTU issued more details of employees being sacked under the new WorkChoices legislation:

Emily Connor was sacked on Wednesday from her job at the Blinky Bill Early Childhood Centre in Gowrie. She had worked at the Centre for nearly five years and is a sole parent with an 18 month old child.

The Childcare Centre Manager called her into a meeting and stated: ‘Your services are no longer required and you have ten minutes to leave the premises.’

A hotel house-keeper on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast was sacked from her full-time job at Ramada Pelican Waters at Caloundra and put on the hotel’s roster as a casual.

Two photo-lab workers sacked in Sydney and told to leave at the end of their shift.
A catering manager sacked from a sports club in regional Tasmania after ten years service on Monday morning - within hours of the new IR laws starting.

Twenty-nine workers have been issued with termination notices at the Cowra Abattoir in NSW.

They will be paid out their entitlements and invited to re-apply to the abattoir for 20 jobs on new employment contracts that involve pay cuts of up to $180 a week and the loss of current performance bonuses.

Union Helpline

Unions are encouraging workers to ring the ACTU for free advice if they have any concerns about the impact of the new laws on their job security, wages or work conditions. The Union Helpline phone number is 1300 362 223.

Related

WorkChoices updates - what you need to know - termination of employment

WorkChoices updates - what you need to know - transitional arrangements


 

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