Independent contractors laws 'a sham' says Della Bosca

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Independent contractors laws 'a sham' says Della Bosca

The Federal Government’s proposed independent contractors’ legislation is a ’power grab’ for State and Territory laws and a further attack on Australian workers and families, according to NSW IR Minister John Della Bosca.

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The Federal Government’s proposed independent contractors’ legislation is a ’power grab’ for State and Territory laws and a further attack on Australian workers and families, according to NSW IR Minister John Della Bosca.

Della Bosca said there is also a fear that the new laws will make it easier for companies to sack their workforce and re-employ them as contractors ‘so they can get out of their OHS and workers compensation responsibilities and not pay superannuation’.

Consultation not promised

He said the ‘new’ protections greatly diminished real protections contained in State and Territory laws for contractors such as building workers, cleaners and security guards.

Della Bosca said that at last week’s Workplace Relations Ministerial Council meeting, Federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews would not commit to consulting with the States and Territories over the legislation.

WorkChoices all over again

‘This is WorkChoices all over again,’ Della Bosca said. ‘The Commonwealth are putting together a piece of complex legislation which once again puts Howard’s battlers in the gun.

‘The States and Territories have no way to help the Commonwealth get this right if they refuse to work with us.’

Della Bosca said independent contractors are already well protected from unfair treatment by State legislation.

‘These new protections are a sham, and the intent of this Bill is to yet again strip away the entitlements of Australian workers by overriding fair and proven State laws. Workers will be left high and dry,’ he said.

‘Where these workers had recourse to our industrial tribunals to settle disputes and recover unpaid wages, the Howard Government is cutting them free to look after themselves.’

Complex litigation

Della Bosca said ‘some of their so-called protections will require expensive and complex litigation, beyond the reach of normal contractors’.

‘And, alarmingly, the protections are to be enforced by the federal Office of Workplace Service, which is hopelessly undermanned and prosecuted a total of seven employers last year,’ he said.

Unfair contracts lost

'Most disturbingly, the long-standing and well-established unfair contracts protections of the NSW industrial jurisdiction are also lost, replaced by untried legislation and the more formalistic Federal Magistrate’s Court, with access for only "genuine cases"'.

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