News briefs, 22/03/12


News briefs, 22/03/12

Road Safety Remuneration Bills pass through the Senate | Boss ‘complies with the law’ and pays up | ACT Greens launch survey to gather data on workplace bullying.


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Road Safety Remuneration Bills pass through the Senate | Boss ‘complies with the law’ and pays up | ACT Greens launch survey to gather data on workplace bullying.

Road Safety Remuneration Bills pass through the Senate
The Road Safety Remuneration (RSR) legislation passed through the Senate on 20 March by a vote of 40 to 32.

Pursuant to the RSR Bill 2011 and the RSR (Consequential Amendments and Related Provisions) Bill 2011, a Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal will function from 1 July 2012. It will have the power to set ‘safe’ pay rates and pay-related condition for truck drivers.

The Minister for Workplace relations, Bill Shorten, described the Senate’s vote as ‘historic’.

‘The pay and conditions set by the Tribunal will reduce the economic incentives for drivers to make unfair and unrealistic deadlines, cut corners on safety and maintenance, or take illicit substances to keep them awake to get to destinations on time,’ he said.

‘Safe rates equal safe roads ...This legislation not only affects truckies, but every Australian and their family who use our roads.’

Meanwhile, the Minister for Transport, Anthony Albanese, said that truck drivers should not be forced to speed, overload their trucks or drive excessive hours ‘just to make a decent living’.

‘The link between exploitation and safety for drivers has been well established through independent research as well as bipartisan Parliamentary inquiries,’ he said.

‘Safety on our roads is a critical issue for all Australians and we can’t afford to continue to allow unsafe practices to impact heavily on families and communities.’

Each year, road accidents involving heavy vehicle account for around 250 deaths and thousands of serious injuries, with the cost to the economy estimated to be $2.7b.

Boss ‘complies with the law’ and pays up
A building company employer who believed his ‘private partnership agreement’ with two Korean employees didn’t need to comply with the law has had to back pay them a total of $34,500.

The payments came after the ABCC found the company had not paid the men for more than three months of work.

The plumber and civil engineer, both Korean nationals, were paid $20,000 and $14,500 respectively in salary and annual leave entitlements.

ABC Commissioner Leigh Johns said the employment relationship involved a contract that was not legally accurate.

‘The employer believed the relationship was a private partnership agreement and therefore did not need to comply with the law,’ ABC Commissioner Johns said.

‘Employers must ensure that all employment agreements are compliant with current Australian legislation.’

‘All employees in the Australian building and construction industry are entitled to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.’

This latest recovery brings the total amount of wages and entitlements that the ABCC has recovered for building and construction workers in New South Wales to $113,554.

ABC Commissioner Johns said if employers are confused or unsure about their obligations, they should contact the ABCC for free one-on-one advice and assistance.

ACT Greens launch survey to gather data on workplace bullying
The ACT Greens launched a survey on bullying, for ACT employees and students to gather better data on bullying trends.

The Greens spokesperson for Health and Industrial Relations, Amanda Bresnan, said the recent CPSU What Women Want survey report highlighted the prevalence of workplace bullying in the Australian Capital Territory, but that the Labor Government and Liberal Opposition continued to neglect the issue by refusing to reform bullying laws and procedures.

The CPSU’s survey found that:
  • More than one in four female public servants said they had been bullied at work in the last 12 months.
  • Nearly one-half (49.8%) of those who were bullied did not report it.
  • Of those who reported the bullying, over one-half were dissatisfied with the response they received.
‘The evidence continues to grow that bullying in the ACT is frequent, but underreported, and that victims are unhappy with the existing avenues of address,’ Bresnan said.
‘The ACT Government’s data is limited to bullying incidents reported by employees. The Greens’ bullying survey covers workplace bullying, school bullying and cyber bullying. It will gather important details on the prevalence of bullying, the extent of underreporting, and victims’ attitudes towards the complaints resolution process.’

‘Clearly more needs to be done to address workplace bullying in the ACT, and I again call on the ACT Government to take action.’
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