Speed up IR laws to stop job losses: unions (1)

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Speed up IR laws to stop job losses: unions (1)

The ACTU wants Labor’s IR laws brought in early to protect workers from losing their jobs in the coming economic slowdown.

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The Federal Opposition has claimed the Government’s move to introduce a compulsory $250 services fee for university students is ‘about restoring the union power base on campus’.

However, Federal Youth Minister Kate Ellis says the new policy is ‘absolutely not’ compulsory student unionism by another name.

‘Whilst we're going to negotiate the guidelines on what this fee can be spent on, we're being very clear about what it cannot be spent on,’ she told ABC Radio.

Not for political purposes

‘It will be not spent on broader political purposes. Also, we will not be removing the clause in the current legislation which prohibits a university from making membership of any student organisation compulsory.’

Ms Ellis said universities, not student organisations, will be held accountable for making decisions on ensuring the government's guidelines are met.

‘Major blow to students’

The Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Youth, Sophie Mirabella, said the re-establishment of a compulsory fee of $250 per student at universities is ‘a major blow to young students in Australia’.

‘The bottom line is that this is a tax on students,’ she said. ‘It’s a compulsory fee for services that students may never utilise. Young people will be the real losers with this visit to the past Labor has been dreaming of.'

Services

‘Ellis and Education Minister, Julia Gillard, must give answers to devastated young Australians who will be asking — exactly what "student services" are these fees to be used for? Who will decide how these fees are spent? If it’s the student union, then this is clearly about restoring the union power base on campus, not about restoring important services.’

‘Labor’s blind ideology means no Australian student can get a degree without forking out dollars to pay for non-educational services.’

Mirabella said the Coalition was very proud in 2006 to remove the burden of Compulsory Student Union fees from Australian students.

‘A betrayal’

‘After Labor’s pre-election promise that this issue will not be revisited — this is clearly a betrayal,’ she said.

National Union of Students president Angus McFarland said he was ‘really happy that the government has finally announced its solution to doing something about protecting student services and representation’.

‘Our major concern, however, is at this stage it's not clear at all how student organisations themselves will fit in with the new plan,’ he said.

Unions should access funds

McFarland said student unions should be able to access the funds to provide services.

‘We think that students themselves are much better at providing support services and activities than the bureaucrats that run universities or, in Canberra,’ he said.

Universities have said students will have a say in how planned compulsory services fees are distributed.

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