Legislation, industrial action, prosecutions — news, 05/04/12

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Legislation, industrial action, prosecutions — news, 05/04/12

Textile contract outworkers to come under Fair Work Act | BHP’s Bowen Basin coal workers vote for more strike action | $72,000 fine over exploitation of foreign worker | ABCC recovers half-a-million in lost wages for building workers | NSW Labor to reintroduce Bill to provide fairer compensation to asbestos victims and families.

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Textile contract outworkers to come under Fair Work Act | BHP’s Bowen Basin coal workers vote for more strike action | $72,000 fine over exploitation of foreign worker | ABCC recovers half-a-million in lost wages for building workers | NSW Labor to reintroduce Bill to provide fairer compensation to asbestos victims and families.

Textile contract outworkers to come under Fair Work Act
 
Legislation has now been passed by Federal Parliament — the Fair Work Amendment (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry) Bill 2012 — to extend the operation of most aspects of the Fair Work Act 2009 to textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) contract outworkers.

The legislation will ensure that outworkers in the TCF industry have the same terms and conditions as other workers without regard to their status as employees or contractors.

Under the new legislation, the person who directly engages a TCF contract outworker will be treated as their employer.
There’s a mechanism in the legislation to enable outworkers to recover unpaid amounts up the supply chain (ie outworkers who have taken reasonable steps to seek payment from the person who is liable to pay them, will be able to recover an unpaid amount from another entity in the supply chain for whom work is done indirectly). This does not include retailers who sell goods produced by, or of a kind often produced by, outworkers, where the retailer does not have a right to supervise or otherwise control the performance of the work.

The legislation will commence on a day to be fixed by Proclamation.
 
Further information is available online.


 
BHP’s Bowen Basin coal workers vote for more strike action
 
Workers from BHP’s seven Bowen Basin coalmines have voted to take further strike action to protest against the company’s latest Enterprise Agreement offer.

At mass meetings at Moranbah, Dysart, Emerald and Blackwater, workers overwhelmingly rejected BHP’s latest offer and voted to take another seven-day stoppage to protest the company allegedly reneging on key in-principle agreements.


 
$72,000 fine over exploitation of foreign worker
 
The operators of a suburban Melbourne restaurant have been fined $72,000 for exploiting a cook recruited from India.

The Federal Magistrates Court imposed the penalty following an investigation and litigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Taj Palace Tandoori Indian Restaurant Pty Ltd, which operates a restaurant of the same name on Nicholson Street, Footscray, has been fined $60,000.

Restaurant manager and part-owner Nathi Singh Rawat, of Sydenham, has been fined a further $12,000.

The restaurant sponsored the cook, an Indian man in his 30s who spoke little English, to come to Australia on a 457 work visa.

He was paid a flat rate of $752 a week, often working 60 to 70 hours, including nights and weekends.

The cook was underpaid his minimum hourly rate, shift allowances, annual leave entitlements and penalty rates for overtime, night, weekend and public holiday work.

Over a 10-month period in 2008–09 he was underpaid a total of $24,217.

Federal Magistrate Grant Riethmuller found that the employee was vulnerable and it was likely that his ability to understand and exercise his rights would have been hampered.


 
ABCC recovers half-a-million in lost wages for building workers
 
The ABCC today announced it has recovered more than half-a-million dollars for underpaid building and construction workers across Australia.

ABC Commissioner Leigh Johns said the agency has been operating as a full-service regulator for around 18 months, taking up the responsibility of recovering wages and entitlements for underpaid building employees — all as a free service.

‘Since December 2010 the ABCC has been able to recover a total of $595,950,’ said ABC Commissioner Leigh Johns.

‘In most cases, after inspectors contacted the business and explained their obligations, the employees were back-paid all entitlements without the need for further action against the employer.

‘Any building and construction workers who believe they may have been underpaid should contact us for free advice and assistance.’
 
Along with the money recovered by the ABCC for workers in New South Wales, the $595,950 figure includes:
  • $72,340 for 135 employees in Victoria
  • $136,160 for 38 employees in Queensland
  • $41,920 for 15 employees in South Australia
  • $98,940 for 29 employees in Western Australia
  • $43,140 for 24 employees in the Australian Capital Territory
  • $89,900 for 41 employees in the Northern Territory.
ABC Commissioner Leigh Johns also encouraged employers to contact the agency for assistance.



NSW Labor to reintroduce Bill to provide fairer compensation to asbestos victims and families
 
The NSW Labor Opposition will reintroduce a Private Member’s Bill in the Legislative Council to provide fairer compensation to asbestos victims and their families — and give the O’Farrell Government a second chance to do the right thing and vote in favour of the changes.

‘The Compensation to Relatives Legislation (Dust Diseases) Amendment Bill 2012 implements the Law Reform Commission’s recommendations to provide fairer compensation to asbestos victims and their families,’ Shadow Attorney General Paul Lynch said today.

‘This Bill will give the Premier a second chance to do the right thing by the families who lose a loved one to an asbestos related disease — after his government voted down a similar piece of legislation in the Legislative Assembly earlier this year.’
 
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