IR news wrap: AWAs, Govt ads, IR Society

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IR news wrap: AWAs, Govt ads, IR Society

covers: AWA ban for young workers; the Federal Government's spending on IR ads reaches $5m before the High Court rules on legality; and the new President of the NSW IR Society is announced.

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Recent IR news covers: AWA ban for young workers; the Federal Government's spending on IR ads reaches $5m before the High Court rules on legality; and the new President of the NSW IR Society is announced.  

Ban AWAs for young people to stop exploitation, says ACTU 

The ACTU has called for a ban on Australian employers pushing young workers on to individual contracts following a series of stories on young people being exploited. 

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said young workers are being bullied, pressured and threatened with discrimination if they didn’t sign individual contracts that removed their penalty rates and cut their take home pay. 

‘It is farcical for the Federal Government to argue that young workers going for their first job are in any sort of position to negotiate an individual contract with their employer,’ Combet said. 

He said the problem with the Federal Governments plans to push more workers onto individual contracts is that many workers, including a lot of younger workers, simply don’t have equal bargaining power with their employer. 

‘Individual contracts mean that these workers are vulnerable to exploitation - to being bullied and discriminated against if they refuse to sign an individual contract, or to having their conditions and take home pay cut if they do sign,’ he said. 

‘The Government keeps talking about choice - well that doesn’t sound like much of a choice to me.’ 

Unfair pressure on employees

Combet said Sydney Morning Herald had reported of young workers at US doughnut chain Krispy Kreme being bullied into signing individual contracts that removed their right to penalty rates, overtime and allowances and cut their take-home pay. 

‘The contacts, which had been approved by the Federal Governments Office of the Employment Advocate, meant that one young worker had to work for 16 ½ hours straight without any penalty payments or overtime loading being paid,’ he said. 

‘All new employees were made to sign the contracts.

‘Existing workers who did not sign are alleged to have been subject to pressure from management including threats that employees work hours would be cut and promotion opportunities would be denied if they did not sign the contracts.

‘Most of the workers were between 15 and 18 years old. Pressure on them to sign was so great that at least one worker was brought to tears.’ 

Combet said that last week a South Australian Court also found that young workers, as young as 15 years old, from Bakers Delight had been pushed onto a Federal Government approved individual contract that abolished annual leave and sick leave and cut their pay by 25%.

‘The Federal Government should move immediately to protect young workers from this sort of ill treatment and exploitation and ban employers from pushing young workers onto individual contracts,’ he said. 

Related 

‘Horror stories’ a sign of things to come, says ACTU 


Govt spending on IR ads reaches $5m – before High Court rules on legality 

The High Court hearing on whether the Federal Government can legally spend taxpayers’ money on advertising in support of its industrial relations agenda will be held on Monday 29 August, but the Opposition says $5m has already been spent. 

The Opposition argues the advertising is illegal because the Government has no authority from the Parliament to use public money on it and is therefore in breach of section 83 of the Australian Constitution. 

Shadow Attorney General Nicola Roxon said even though the legal basis of this spending is the subject of a High Court case, ‘the Government has been busy engaging advertisers and clocking up bills’. 

Details of spending

She said it was known that the Government already owes just under $5 million to the following companies:

  • $3 million to hma Blaze

  • $600 000 to Colmar Brunton

  • $250 000 to Jackson Wells Morris, and

  • over $1 million to Dewey Horton.

‘As if the advertising rort was not enough, Andrews has made sure old Liberal Party mates get a piece of the action,’ Roxon said. 

‘Liberal Party advertiser Ted Horton is a principal of Dewey Horton and John Howard’s former chief of staff, Graeme Morris, is a partner of Jackson Wells Morris.

She said the Government is on the record as saying that the money spent so far is not ‘of any consequence’. 

‘If $5 million is not of any consequence, the mind boggles at how much taxpayers’ money they intend to spend on these ads,’ she said. 

‘This is a wasteful, unethical, party-political use of taxpayers’ money.’

Related 

Howard Govt taken to High Court over IR ad campaign 


Director of IR for ABL - new NSW IR Society President

Dick Grozier is the new President of the NSW IR Society. 

 

Dick is the Director of IR for Australian Business Industrial - the IR registered arm of Australian Business Limited (ABL). He will take over from AIRC Commissioner Greg Harrison.

Judge John Cahill, has stepped down as patron of the Society. He has been replaced by Judge Paul Munro, who retired from the AIRC in 2004.  

 

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