News wrap —3/9/08


News wrap —3/9/08

Independent Senators hold key to IR reform: ACTU; Unions raise WorkChoices in WA poll; Happiness + Wellbeing @ Work Conference.


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Independent Senators hold key to IR reform: ACTU; Unions raise WorkChoices in WA poll; Happiness + Wellbeing @ Work Conference.

Independent Senators hold key to IR reform: ACTU

The ACTU is pinning its hopes on two independent Senators in getting the current unfair dismissal laws changed and a fairer workplace relations system introduced.

ACTU president Sharan Burrow said in a comment piece for the ABC that the balance of power in the Federal Upper House now rests with the Greens and Family First Senator Steve Fielding and SA independent Senator Nick Xenophon.

No guarantees

Burrow said that in this situation ‘there are no guarantees that election promises can be delivered’.

She said Senators will face tests of ‘moral courage’ over the next few months as they consider new industrial relations laws and other measures that will undeniably shape the nation's future.

‘Voters made their decisions [at the last federal election] on the basis of two major issues - WorkChoices and climate change,’ Burrow said.

‘Both these issues are central to a creating a stable future for the economy, the environment and for working Australians and their families.’

Numbers game

‘In the numbers game that will characterise the Senate, the hopes and aspirations of Australians, their children and indeed their grandchildren may well rest on Nick Xenophon and Steve Fielding.'

‘With the introduction of the new federal IR laws later this year, we will finally see the restoration of rights at work that if passed will mitigate the power of the employer. The central question is; where will the Senators stand?'

‘On industrial relations we hope they will understand and support the importance of designing a fairer system that is built around genuine collective bargaining rights for workers. The IR laws must also have a robust safety net of minimum legislative standards and industry awards with unfair dismissal protections for all workers and a strong role for an independent umpire.’

Motivated by more than ideology

Burrow said the ACTU hopes that when it comes to examining the detail of this legislation, Senators will be motivated by more than ideology and the confines of geography.

‘The rights of working Australians enshrined in this system could well shape our workplaces, our family lives and the economy for decades to come.'

‘Senators who fail to see the significance of this risk losing not only the hearts and minds of their constituents, but the opportunity to make laws that ensure Australia regains its mantle as the land of the “fair go”.’

Union achievements from collective bargaining are a strong part of our nation's history. The benefits of our work for families and communities and indeed business are there for all to see.


Burrow said Senators will face lobbying from powerful forces intent on shaking their positions on IR and other issues.

‘It will take some steel to avoid being persuaded by rhetoric about the unfettered power of businesses to hire and fire so they can make profit and grow their enterprises,’ she said.

‘When the legislation is presented to the upper house, some time later this year, Senators can make their mark.'

‘They should remember the clear mandate from voters at last year's election to scrap WorkChoices and to restore the balance in our workplaces through collective bargaining.'

‘They should also recognise that Australians want all workers to have protection from being sacked unfairly - whether they work on a small or large business.’


Dismissal laws: transition from WorkChoices to Forward with Fairness

More predictions about coming federal IR changes

Unions raise WorkChoices in WA poll

WA unions are raising the spectre of WorkChoices in the run-up to the State election, to be held this Saturday.

UnionsWA secretary, Dave Robinson, said there has been a ‘deafening silence’ during the campaign on what work laws would look like under a Colin Barnett Liberal State Government

Barnett led the Liberals to defeat at the last State election and was then dumped, but was reappointed as leader last month.

‘Kept in the dark’

‘WA workers must not be kept in the dark about Liberal Party plans for their job security and rights at work’, Robinson said.

Robinson said he had written to Barnett asking him to clarify his intentions on workplace relations in the state.

Among the questions asked were:

  • Do you intend to try and keep Public Sector workforce issues within the state rather than transferring to Commonwealth jurisdiction?

  • And how do you define the Public Sector, for instance, does it include the Trading Entities such as Western Power, Gold Corporation etc?

  • You and your party have made a number of comments in relation to contracting out of government services and functions and a more rigorous adoption of PPPs. Can you outline in what areas and the extent to which you would see this occurring?

Robinson said that so far he has not got a response to the questions. 


WA trying to side-step WorkChoices with State laws

Almost half WA workers still covered by State system 

Happiness + Wellbeing @ Work Conference

On  25 September 2008 at the Harbours Edge, Darling Harbour, Sydney, the Workplace Research Centre (University of Sydney) will be holding its 2nd Happiness + Wellbeing @ Work conference following the success of last year’s event.

The speakers, who are each leaders in their respective fields, will cover a variety of topics through a number of presentations and fun and interactive workshops:

  • Are happy workers better workers?

  • Want to create lasting improvements in your workplace relationships that produce measurable business benefits and better corporate performance?

  • Is there a need to rethink the current obsession with happiness?

  • Want to improve retention?

Learn from others who have successfully implemented strategies within their own organisations.

For more details and registration visit the conference website.
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