Thousands of State IR cases may be ‘thrown out of court’ under WorkChoices

News

Thousands of State IR cases may be ‘thrown out of court’ under WorkChoices

Hundreds of NSW unfair dismissal and unfair contracts cases could be thrown out before they even get to court under the Howard Government’s new IR laws, NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, John DelIa Bosca, has warned.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

Hundreds of NSW unfair dismissal and unfair contracts cases could be thrown out before they even get to court under the Howard Government’s new IR laws, NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, John DelIa Bosca, has warned. 

The same circumstances would apply in all other States except Victoria, which has already ceded its IR powers to the Commonwealth, raising the potential number of cases into the thousands. 

Impact of WorkChoices legislation

Della Bosca said it appeared the legislation would force all cases relating to unfair dismissal and unfair contracts before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to become void from the moment the new law comes into effect.

‘This would result in employers, unions and individuals being thousands of dollars out of pocket for legal expenses they have already committed to their cases,’ he said. 

Della Bosca said he will write to Federal Workplace Minister Kevin Andrews, asking him to clarify the relevant section of the WorkChoices Act and its impact on cases presently before the Commission. 

'Illegal' v 'Unfair' dismissals

A media report today quoted a spokesman for Andrews saying: ‘Under WorkChoices these claims will lapse because people will fall under the new system, which has protections for illegal dismissal, including up to $4,000 in free legal advice.’ 

However the problem Della Bosca has referred to in NSW and other States relates to ‘unfair’ dismissals, not ‘illegal’ dismissals. 

Barnaby Joyce's position

Queensland National Senator Barnaby Joyce says the situation facing workers preparing unfair dismissal cases is ‘like building half a house and the Government not letting you finish it’.

‘If you’re midway through preparation of a case, and you’ve spent large sums of money in good faith under one law, it is intrinsically unfair to just cancel it without compensation,’ he said. 

Senator Joyce said he would challenge the section of the Act if there was an element of retrospectively. He said this situation was not apparent to the Senate committee that inquired into the legislation last week. 

Uncertainty created

Della Bosca said the problem is ‘causing immense uncertainty and confusion among workers and businesses, the legal fraternity, and the State and Territory commissions across Australia’.

Della Bosca said under Section 7C of the WorkChoices Act it states: 'This Act is intended to apply to the exclusion of ... the ... laws of a State or Territory...'

‘This is a prime example of why the Howard Government should stop its arrogant approach in pushing this radical legislation through Parliament,’ Della Bosca said. 

‘Its impact needs to be properly scrutinised. A five-day Senate Inquiry which opted for window dressing which will not prevent the erosion of the rights and entitlements of Australian workers and their families was the wrong approach.’ 

Della Bosca said under proper scrutiny the Government would ‘realise this legislation needs to be torn up and started again’. 

ACTU petition

Meanwhile, more than 60,000 people have signed an ACTU online petition calling for Senator Barnaby Joyce to Vote No on the Government’s WorkChoices legislation when it comes before the Senate next week.  

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the singers had ‘taken the time to tell Senator Joyce that they want him to use his vote to throw the Government’s proposed IR legislation out of the Senate.  

‘Not pass it, not amend it, not fix some little technicalities - throw WorkChoices out.’ 

Burrow said the petition has only been running three days. It was launched on Monday (21 Nov.) and is due to close at 5pm today (Friday). 

Burrow will present the petition to Senator Joyce next week before the Senate vote.

It can be found on the ACTU Rights at Work website

Related

Unfair dismissal: comparing current to proposed legislation 

 

Post details