Fairness in the family work stakes

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Fairness in the family work stakes

However, the ALP recognised the termination rules had to change, but they shouldn’t be rules that allowed employees to be sacked without reasonable cause, Crean said.

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Fair working conditions and a commitment to family values were interlinked, the Federal Opposition Leader Simon Crean told the ACTU Congress this morning.

People shouldn’t have to choose between being a good parent or a good employee, Crean said when he broached work and family issues as part of his address to the Congress.

The ALP supported Government funded paid maternity leave and of equal importance was affordable childcare.

Extending unpaid parental leave from one to two years, rostering that took into account family needs, job sharing and working from home would help also develop a better balance between work and family, he added.

To further help the cause of working families, the AIRC public interest test should be amended so it took into account the impact of employment conditions on families, he said.

The ALP also supported the right to return to part-time work after having a baby.

However, there were legal barriers to these situations and an absence of good faith bargaining, both of which needed to be rectified, he said.

Rectifying good faith

Also in his address to the Congress, Crean said the ALP was not interested in forcing people into prescriptive bargaining outcomes.

Rather, good faith bargaining should be part of the industrial system to ensure parties came together to work out their differences, to reach some agreement.

Under the Federal Workplace Relations Act employees can request that an employer bargain with them, but the employer can refuse.

Crean said if the Good Faith Bargaining Bill that was put up by the ALP in June 2003 had been supported, long running disputes, such as the 17-week dispute at Morris McMahon, would never have happened.

The Good Faith Bargaining Bill gives the AIRC the power to bring parties to a dispute together so they bargain in good faith.

The Bill does not allow for the AIRC to prescribe bargaining outcomes.

Entitlements

Also on the industrial front, Crean said the ALP wanted to protect 100% of worker entitlements and had introduced a Bill aimed at protecting those entitlements.

The ALP was also seeking to change the corporations law to prevent sham companies stripping away employee entitlements ‘overnight’.

Dismissals

Crean said he wasn’t sure how the Federal Government’s Termination of Employment Bill that made it easier to sack workers would increase employment.

The ALP would continue to reject such a Bill.

However, the ALP recognised the termination rules had to change, but they shouldn’t be rules that allowed employees to be sacked without reasonable cause, Crean said.

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