Green light for probe into workplace law loopholes

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Green light for probe into workplace law loopholes

The Senate has unanimously voted to undertake an inquiry into loopholes in workplace relations laws that are being used by corporations to cut wages, workplace conditions and remove job security.

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The Senate has unanimously agreed to undertake a detailed inquiry into loopholes in workplace relations laws that are being used by corporations to cut wages, workplace conditions and remove job security.

The Senate inquiry, which will report back by August next year, will examine the incidence of, and trends in, corporate avoidance of the Fair Work Act 2009, with particular reference to:
  • the use of labour hire and/or contracting arrangements that affect workers' pay and conditions;
  • voting cohorts to approve agreements with a broad scope that affect workers' pay and conditions;
  • the use of agreement termination that affect workers' pay and conditions;
  • the effectiveness of transfer of business provisions in protecting workers' pay and conditions;
  • the avoidance of redundancy entitlements by labour hire companies;
  • the effectiveness of any protections afforded to labour hire employees from unfair dismissal;
  • the approval of enterprise agreements by workers not yet residing in Australia that affect workers' pay and conditions;
  • the extent to which companies avoid their obligations under the Fair Work Act 2009 by engaging workers on visas;
  • whether the National Employment Standards and modern awards act as an effective 'floor' for wages and conditions and
  • the extent to which companies enter into arrangements that avoid those obligations;
  • legacy issues relating to WorkChoices and Australian Workplace Agreements;
  • the economic and fiscal impact of reducing wages and conditions across the economy; and
  • any other related matters.
The Electrical Trades Union commended the bipartisan support for the inquiry into systemic flaws, loopholes and legal tactics being used by corporations to remove workplace rights, fair wages, and reasonable conditions, describing it as an endorsement of union calls for an investigation into several recent workplace disputes.

Brewery dispute highlighted issues


“This issue was thrown into the spotlight in June when 55 maintenance workers employed at Carlton & United Breweries in Melbourne were terminated and then offered their jobs back, but only if they accepted pay cuts of up to 65 per cent,” ETU national secretary Allen Hicks said.

“In that case, the use of contractors and a workplace agreement that had been voted on by just three casual workers in Perth two years earlier were among the tools used to circumvent the provisions of the Fair Work Act and leave workers substantially worse off.

“We expect the powers available to this inquiry will, for the first time, reveal the full extent of CUB’s legal tactics that were designed to cut wages and remove union representation.

“Across Australia, we are increasingly seeing major corporations use similar legislative loopholes and complex legal arrangements to game the system, slash wages and conditions, and threaten the job security and livelihoods of Australians.”

 
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