News briefs, 24/10/12


News briefs, 24/10/12

A $420,000 bonus to Fairfax CEO ‘a bad look’ says ACTU | Changes to TAFE will hurt quality of training, says union | Trainee real estate agent gets $11,200 backpay.


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A $420,000 bonus to Fairfax CEO ‘a bad look’ says ACTU | Changes to TAFE will hurt quality of training, says union | Trainee real estate agent gets $11,200 backpay.

$420,000 bonus or saving four jobs: ACTU attack on Fairfax
The ACTU is objecting to the Fairfax Board awarding its CEO, Greg Hywood, a $420,000 bonus at the same time as it rejects efforts to save four newspaper workers in Tasmania.

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said that it was ‘a particularly bad look’.

‘The shareholders of Fairfax should not take the decision to award an executive bonus lightly,’ he said.

‘A company undergoing redundancies should not be handing out extra payments to its management.’

‘If they have enough money to pay bonuses, their obligation should be to instead use it to assist their staff.’

Unions are calling on the company to:
  • pay workers in the customer contact centres whose jobs are to be outsourced their full redundancy entitlements, based on their actual earning
  • negotiate decent redundancy packages with workers on minimum redundancy arrangements in good faith
  • genuinely make every effort to work with employees and their unions to mitigate job losses, particularly in regional operations where unemployment levels are high
  • commit to develop a fair process for implementing redundancies and provide resources to assist workers to maximise their re-employment opportunities
  • respect the recommendations made by Fair Work Australia designed to ensure a fair and transparent process of implementing redundancies
  • guarantee employee entitlements.

TAFE changes will hurt students, says union
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is concerned changes to TAFE course funding, combined with job cuts, will compromise the quality of education offered to NSW students.

Under the changes, TAFE courses will no longer receive state funding unless they meet certain requirements approved by the government.

CPSU NSW branch secretary John Cahill said there is nothing to suggest the State Government’s proposed changes will help build a better, more sustainable TAFE system.

‘The contestable funding model for TAFE has been a disaster in Victoria, and I’ve seen nothing today that convinces me we will avoid the same pitfalls in NSW,’ Cahill said.

‘Forced competition and new guidelines for course funding will not increase vocational training for all, it will create “winners and losers” among students and reduce high-quality education options.’

‘The Government claims TAFE will still be a provider of choice, while it introduces measures that really limit student’s choice — de-funding long-running courses, raising fees, cutting department budgets and slashing 800 jobs.

‘The standard of learning will be affected by a reduction in the staff employed to maintain resources and infrastructure such as classrooms, laboratories, equipment and tools.’

Shadow Education Minister, Carmel Tebbutt said important and practical courses that have been provided at a reasonable cost through TAFE institutes for many years will now either be cut altogether or have such high fees imposed that they are simply too expensive for many students.

‘Claims by the Education Minister that the private sector will automatically pick up this training are simply incorrect.’

‘TAFE, due to its size and government support, has been able to deliver training in regional NSW and in technology based courses that have been less financially attractive to private providers.’

Trainee real estate agents gets $11,200 owed
A trainee real estate agent at Gosford who was underpaid wages and commissions over a five-month period in 2010 has received $11,200 in back-pay.

After a Fair Work inspector contacted the business and explained its obligations, the employee was reimbursed all money owed without the need for further action against the employer.

Workers on the NSW Central Coast region have been back paid a total of $43,400, following recent intervention by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Other recent recoveries include:
  • $8900 for a real estate agent at Wyong underpaid commissions over a three-month period
  • $6300 for a Wyong laundry assistant underpaid the minimum hourly wage
  • $5700 for an accountant at The Entrance underpaid annual leave entitlements upon termination of employment
  • $5700 for a young tradesperson at Gosford underpaid wages over an eight-month period
  • $5600 for a tradesperson at Gosford underpaid the minimum hourly wage and penalty rates between 2010 and 2012.
Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson said when Fair Work inspectors identify a problem and contact a business, most employers check their records, realise a problem has occurred, and fix it immediately.

‘When we find mistakes, we’re here to assist and give practical advice to employers on how to voluntarily resolve issues,’ Mr Wilson says.

‘These businesses have now corrected the errors that led to the underpayments and put processes in place to ensure they will not happen again.’

Between 1 July 2009 and 30 September 2012, the Fair Work Ombudsman recovered a total of $100.2 million in back-pay for more than 56,000 unpaid workers in Australia.

Since March 2006, the Fair Work Ombudsman and its predecessor agencies have recouped a total of $185.5 million for 124,000 workers.
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