Greens commit to radical IR polices to woo left voters


Greens commit to radical IR polices to woo left voters

The Greens have been committed to a radical IR policy by their number one NSW Senate candidate, former State Leader Lee Rhiannon.


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The Greens have been committed to a radical IR policy by their number one NSW Senate candidate, former State Leader Lee Rhiannon.
The Party, expected to hold the balance of power in the Senate after the election this Saturday, wants to liberalise unions’ right of entry, abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC), extend the matters allowed in collective bargaining and limit the harmonisation process for national OHS and IR legislation.
The Greens have been moving since the last election to capture the industrial left of politics as Labor has increasingly sought to move to the centre. Some elements of the hard left of the Victorian trade union movement are now urging their members to vote Green rather than Labor.
Rhiannon yesterday announced that key components of the Greens NSW industrial relations plan are:
  • reinstating rights lost as a result of the Fair Work Act, including:
    • proper right-of-entry provisions for unions to workplaces
    • restoring the 21-day period workers have to claim unfair dismissal
  • abolishing the ABCC
  • protecting NSW OHS laws from downgrading as a result of the national harmonisation process
  • preventing Gillard’s award simplification stripping away rights
  • strengthening the capacity for collective action by unions.
‘Australia is a prosperous country and there is no excuse for a second-rate industrial relations system,’ Rhiannon said.
Workers’ rights eroded
‘Workers’ rights were eroded under the Howard Government and some remnants remain. It’s time to bury them.’
‘A first-rate industrial relations framework, like a good health and education system, is critical to maintaining a decent standard of living for all Australians.’
‘The Greens will not allow the federal industrial relations harmonisation process, kicked off when Julia Gillard was Minister for Industrial Relations, to weaken NSW workplace safety conditions.’
Right of entry
Rhiannon said union officials need to be given the power to enter workplaces so that safety measures are enforced before accidents occur.
‘The Greens believe in strengthening unions’ right of entry to recruit members, inspect for breaches of occupational health and safety provisions and breaches of the Fair Work Act, relevant awards or agreements,’ she said.
Rhiannon said the Greens are committed to reinstating proper right-of-entry provisions for unions in the Fair Work Act.
Abolish the ABCC
‘The ABCC is a Commonwealth funded secret police force aimed directly at unions and unionists in the building and construction industry,’ Rhiannon said.
‘The fact that the ABCC can compel any person who was on a building site to attend an interrogation session without cause, to then interrogate them in the absence of their lawyer and strip away any right to silence before spitting them back on the street and directing them to be absolutely silent about the whole affair on threat of imprisonment is a blight on our society.’
‘The Greens NSW are committed to immediate abolition of the ABCC.’
OHS laws
Rhiannon said the Greens support the strongest possible OHS laws, whether Commonwealth or state.
‘The pursuit of national harmonisation of OHS laws by the ALP is a real threat to the current level of protection NSW workers have under state laws, including the possible loss of an employer’s absolute duty to prevent risk to working people,’ she said.
‘The Greens NSW will work to ensure that whatever the outcome of the process of harmonising Occupational Health and Safety laws, no NSW workplace will be less safe.
Award simplification
Rhiannon said the Award simplification agenda progressed by the Rudd–Gillard Government has essentially delivered the stripped down award system first pictured under WorkChoices.
‘Low paid workers have been especially hit hard,’ she said.
‘The most striking example is community sector workers, often women, who have recently seen their hourly rates frozen, if not cut, while conditions have been reduced under the simplified award.’
‘While the Greens support simpler and fairer industrial laws, the award simplification process should not at the expense of the most vulnerable, and often most valuable, members of the workforce.’
Collective action
Rhiannon said the Greens value unions as an important part of any modern pluralist society.
‘Collective agreements should remain the primary means of regulating employment. Unions give working people a voice in not only their day-to-day working lives but also in progressing important social and environmental initiatives.’
‘The Greens believe employees must be allowed to collectively negotiate outcomes at their workplace that fall outside the narrow strictures of the employment relationship.’
‘This includes allowing employees to bargain for important reforms such as a more sustainable workplace, greater gender equity and increased social responsibility from their employers.’
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