It’s now ‘hire and fire at will’ for bosses, says ACTU

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It’s now ‘hire and fire at will’ for bosses, says ACTU

The ACTU has continued its attack on the new federal IR legislation, claiming that young people and the disabled are vulnerable to pay cuts and that employers will be able to ‘hire and fire at will’.

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The ACTU has continued its attack on the new  federal IR legislation, claiming that young people and the disabled are vulnerable to pay cuts and that employers will be able to ‘hire and fire at will’. 

'Operational reasons' - the key phrase

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet is concerned that the ability to sack workers for  ‘operational reasons’ could leave existing employees exposed to being sacked and replaced with new cheaper workers employed on AWAs with just five minimum conditions.  

‘These laws are a threat to the job security of every Australian employee,’ Combet said. ‘They will give employers unprecedented new powers to hire and fire at will.

‘Not only do these laws abolish all unfair dismissal protections for 3.7 million workers employed in businesses with 100 or fewer staff, they also mean that any worker, even those employed in companies with more than 100 staff, can be sacked unfairly so long as their employer says the dismissal was for “operational reasons”.’ 

Young and disabled face wage cuts

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said young, disabled and trainee workers could face wage cuts and reduced rights when dealing with unscrupulous employers under the new laws.

‘A major problem is that the Government’s guarantee that minimum wages will not fall below the current $12.75 will not apply to more than 1 million workers who are aged under 21, disabled or trainees,’ she said. 

‘These people will be subject to what the Government terms a “special minimum wage” and the Prime Minister has already said that he intends to make youth and trainee wages “more competitive”. These changes could lead to lower minimum wages in the future.’

Alleged protections - 'a sham'

Burrow said that under the legislation the requirement for employers to ensure workers are aware of their rights and to provide access to a ‘bargaining agent’ when negotiating a job contract is ‘a sham’. 

‘The so-called procedural protections can be signed away, including the right to be informed that you have a right to a bargaining agent,’ she said. ‘And, even if they aren’t signed away, there is no way to force an employer to comply. 

‘Under the Government’s proposals, the AWA takes affect immediately and the only recourse a person unhappy with the contract has is to lodge an expensive claim before the Federal Court.

‘There is no longer any access for people to make such claims before the Office of Employment Advocate or a Tribunal.’

Upcoming IR legislation briefings

The specialist IR research group from the University of Sydney, acirrt, has organised two separate briefings on the meaning and application of the proposed federal IR changes in Sydney on 24 November 2005.

Guest Presenters include:

  • The Hon. John Della Bosca, NSW Minister for Industrial Relations

  • Dick Grozier, Director, Industrial Relations, Australian Business Limited

  • John Robertson, Secretary, Unions NSW

  • Cathy Doyle, Head of People, QANTAS

  • Neil Napper, Partner, Deacons

See the acirrt site for details.

Related 

The new IR laws – employers will get what they want, eventually

 

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