Law changes — to help workers or union bosses?

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Law changes — to help workers or union bosses?

The ACTU says two Bills passed in Federal Parliament this week improve the pay and conditions of workers, but the Opposition says they are designed to help out union bosses.

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The ACTU says two Bills passed in Federal Parliament this week improve the pay and conditions of workers, but the Opposition says they are designed to help out union bosses.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said truck drivers would no longer have to work long days with many unpaid hours just to get the job done, thanks to the Road Safety Remuneration Bill 2011.

And she said the entitlements and protections of textile, clothing and footwear workers will also be strengthened by the Fair Work Amendment (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry) Bill 2011.

‘Truck drivers and clothing outworkers endure some of the worst effects of insecure work, with the fear they will not have a job in the morning prompting them to work long hours, risk their safety and sacrifice valuable time outside work just to make a living,’ Kearney said.

‘The situation of these workers clearly illustrate how insecure work is all about generating profits and shifting any risk from employers to employees.’

Exploitation

Kearney said workers in both industries were often too afraid to speak out about exploitation because they feared for their jobs.

‘Truck driving is one of the most dangerous jobs in Australia, with many drivers facing unrealistic pressure to deliver goods to major retailers within certain time frames, forcing them to load and unload in their own time,’ she said.

‘The vote to award these workers fair pay and conditions will make them safer and their jobs more secure.’

‘Many home-based outworkers work 12-hour days or longer, for just $5 an hour — less than one-third the minimum wage — sewing items of clothes that earn distributors and retailers huge profits.’

‘The amendments to the Fair Work Act will mean contract outworkers in the textile, clothing and footwear industry will be covered by most of the Act and will ensure nationally consistent provisions across Australia and a critical safety net of terms and conditions for workers in the TCF industry who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.’

However, Opposition IR spokesman Eric Abetz said the two Bills plus the abolition of the ABCC were ‘designed to help out the union bosses to the detriment of individual workers and independent contractors’.

‘This week, Labor went out of their way to back the union bosses, throwing the interests of individual workers and independent contractors out the window,’ he said.

Return of thuggery

‘Amazingly, Labor and their Green Alliance partners even voted against an amendment to guarantee that no worker or contractor would be worse off.’

‘Make no mistake, this is a trifecta for the union bosses and will see the return of intimidation, thuggery and recklessness to the Australian industrial landscape.’

‘Workers will be left worse off and the union bosses will be off the leash.’

‘This is big government and big unions coming together to do over the little guy.’
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