Small business is rejecting WorkChoices, Labor MP  claims

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Small business is rejecting WorkChoices, Labor MP claims

Small businesses seems to be having some serious doubts about the Federal Government’s WorkChoices legislation, a Labor MP has told Federal Parliament.

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Small businesses seems to be having some serious doubts about the Federal Government’s WorkChoices legislation, a Labor MP has told Federal Parliament.

Member for Werriwa, Chris Hayes, said it was not surprising that businesses aren’t waiting to see the detailed regulation under the WorkChoices scheme ‘but rather are making sure that their businesses at least have certainty locked in now’.

Increasing number of union-negotiated agreements

He said that in the 2005 December quarter, 2,083 union-negotiated agreements were registered in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

‘This is up from 1,308 union agreements registered in the September quarter, which is nearly three times the 776 agreements registered in the June quarter,’ he said.

‘Essentially, employers are not waiting around to see the detail.’

Hayes said it is not just the larger organisations with unionised workforces that are ‘starting to speak out against these extreme changes’.

Case study - reduction in pay

He recounted the story of a young woman who appeared before a recent session of the Labor Caucus Industrial Relations Taskforce in Tasmania.

‘This young woman happened to work in a café,’ Hayes said. ‘She came along with her mother.

‘The cafe proprietor decided, with a view to cutting costs, to engage a labour hire provider to provide a workforce.

‘All he did was to transfer all his existing employees to the labour hire contract and then renegotiate the contract with the labour hire provider.

‘This girl, who was working her way through school and using the money for music lessons was offered fewer hours and a reduction of $2 an hour.

‘Because she did not sign the contract, she was not allocated any further time with that employer. Effectively, whilst not sacked, she just disappeared from that proprietor’s business, from the cafe.

‘It is not a case of saying that people will not act abusively when it comes to these laws; we know that people will, and what we have done is remove the checks and balances that applied within the system to stop people from exploiting people such as the young woman.’

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