Labor ‘admits’ workers worse off under Fair Work, Opposition claims

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Labor ‘admits’ workers worse off under Fair Work, Opposition claims

A Labor Minister has ‘admitted’ that the government’s own fair work system could strip workers of basic award conditions without reprieve — and unions have remained ‘deafeningly silent’ on the issue, the Opposition claims.

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A Labor Minister has ‘admitted’ that the government’s own fair work system could strip workers of basic award conditions without reprieve — and unions have remained ‘deafeningly silent’ on the issue, the Opposition claims.
 
Liberal Senator Eric Abetz said the Workplace Relations Minister, Chris Evans, made the ‘embarrassing’ admission in a recent letter to the FWA President Justice Geoffrey Giudice.
 
‘When Julia Gillard was Workplace Relations Minister she repeatedly promised that no worker would be worse off under Labor’s Fair Work laws,’ Abetz said.
 
‘But now even Julia Gillard’s own Minister has admitted that there are examples of workers going backwards under Labor to a point where they have no protection or safety net at all.’
 
Small number of employees ‘may’ lose entitlements
 
In his letter to Justice Giudice, dated 29 September 2010, Evans raises key concerns:
‘Item 3 of Schedule 5 requires FWA to terminate any modernisable instruments that are completely replaced by a modern award as soon as practicable after modern awards come into operation …
 
Although the manner in which FWA undertakes this process is a matter for it to determine, I am concerned that the proposed 'exceptions' based process may result in some instruments being terminated without considered examination of whether they can be said to have been totally or partly replaced by a modern award resulting in a (probably) small number of employees losing minimum entitlements. This is particularly relevant as once instruments are terminated under the process, there is no mechanism that would allow them to be reinstated if it was discovered that their termination had left employees without their entitlements.
 
The Government considers that not all parties affected by the termination of modernisable instruments will be aware of this process, and suggests that a more staged process be undertaken to terminating modernisable instruments. Taking this approach would allow more time for interested parties who think that terminating a certain modernisable instrument will create a coverage gap to make a submission to FWA to vary the relevant modern award to avoid such a gap emerging …
 
A further issue to be aware of relates to cases where employees rely on pay scales which have not been translated into the modern award. In this circumstance, the termination of the pay scale would mean that employees would only be subject to the protections of the national minimum wage. There is the potential that this could inadvertently lead to a reduction in wages.
 
The Government believes FWA should also be mindful of not terminating an industry award or pay scale inadvertently, where this underpins an enterprise award.’
‘Typical Labor spin’ exposed
 
Abetz said that although PM Julia Gillard constantly stated that the Fair Work Laws ‘got the balance right’ and that the system was ‘going as planned’, Evans’ correspondence with the Fair Work umpire exposed this as ‘typical Labor spin’.
 
‘Even in the face of robust criticism of the new system by the Government’s own Ombudsman, Ms Gillard continues with her well practiced arrogance of denying anything is wrong,’ he said.
 
Union’s political motives ‘exposed'
 
Abetz said Unions’ ‘deafening silence about this glaring hole in Ms Gillard’s system’, whilst at the same time criticising the Coalition ‘at every opportunity they get’, exposed the movement’s political motives.
 
‘Julia Gillard and the unions must now come clean and admit that workers are worse off under Labor’s laws,’ Abetz said.
 
‘It’s also time for the union movement to focus on helping to protect their members rather than being full-time propaganda merchants for the Labor party in the hope of future political endorsement,’ Senator Abetz said.
 
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