WorkChoices: news update 9/11/05

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WorkChoices: news update 9/11/05

Recent news regarding WorkChoices includes: Howard allows public holidays - but not pay for them, claims Family First Senator; over 3000 submissions from members of the public have already been lodged with the Senate Inquiry into the Govt’s proposed new IR laws; and Howard refuses televised IR debate with Beazley.

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Recent news regarding WorkChoices includes: Howard allows public holidays - but not pay for them, claims Family First Senator; over 3000 submissions from members of the public have already been lodged with the Senate Inquiry into the Govt’s proposed new IR laws; and Howard refuses televised IR debate with Beazley. 

Howard allows public holidays - but not pay for them, claims Senator

The Federal Government’s IR legislation allows the States to declare public holidays – but not ensure people get paid for working on them, Family First Senator Steve Fielding has complained. 

He says the change is ‘anti-family’. 

‘What is the point of allowing State and Territory government to nominate public holidays if workers do not get paid for them,’ Senator Fielding asked today. ‘So much for the Prime Minister insisting public holidays such as Anzac Day and Melbourne Cup Day are “sacrosanct”.’

Senator Fielding said section 7C(3)(f) allows State and Territory governments to legislate for ‘the observance of a public holiday, except the rate of payment of an employee for the public holiday’. 

Choice for Federal Government

‘The Federal Government has a choice,’ he said. ‘Either it ensures that people get paid for public holidays or it lets the States do it.

‘But the Federal Government should not remove guarantees that all workers will be paid for public holidays and then stop the States from doing it.’ 

Senator Fielding said Australians did not elect the Howard Government so they would be ‘forced to bargain for paid public holidays which they already enjoy’.    

‘These changes undermine family life and I will be moving amendments to ensure workers are not docked pay because they do not work on public holidays’. 

IR Senate inquiry gets 3000 submissions – and emasculated

More than 3000 submissions from members of the public have already been lodged with the Senate Inquiry into the Federal Government’s proposed new IR laws – but most will never be read.  

ACTU President Sharan Burrow says the number of submissions shows there is massive public concern about the IR changes that cannot be dealt with in the Inquiry’s current timeframe of only five days of public hearings. 

Debate by experts instead

However the Senate inquiry has now been further restricted, with Senator Judith Troeth, the Committee chairwoman, yesterday proposing the unprecedented model of the Government and the Opposition each nominating a panel of four experts to debate the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ cases  for the legislation next week.

Under this format there would be no taking of evidence from those who put written submissions to the inquiry. The committee would follow up with a written report on limited aspects of the legislation. 

Barred from investigation

The Government has already ruled out investigation of secret ballots, termination of bargaining agreements, pattern bargaining, remedies for unprotected industrial activity, strike pay, right of entry, award simplification, freedom of association and civil penalties on union officials.

 

Motion to extend inquiry defeated

Senator George Campbell, former national secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, moved in the Senate yesterday to extend the IR Inquiry to report on 28 November, and also undertake public hearings in each capital city. 

Senator Troeth moved that the motion be put before anyone else could speak on it, and it was defeated on party lines.

‘The Government’s proposed new workplace laws were only released to the public last Wednesday and yet submissions close [today] with the Inquiry due to make its final report and be wound up by 22 November,’ Burrow said. 

‘Even if it takes just 5 minutes to read each submission from a concerned member of the public, this means each Senator will be reading non-stop, 24 hours a day, for more than ten days to get through them all.’  

Burrow said there is clearly not enough time for Senators to do this and the views and concerns of many people will simply be ignored.  

New union website

She also launched a new website to support the ACTU campaign against the Government’s new IR laws.  

The Your Rights at Work website has been completely rebuilt to enable Australians around the country to take action against the IR proposals.  

The site can be found at: www.rightsatwork.com.au 

Howard refuses IR debate with Beazley 

Prime Minister John Howard has refused the challenge by Opposition Leader Kim Beazley to have a televised debate on the Government’s new IR legislation. 

In a statement today, Beazley said: ‘Howard did not tell the Australian people in the election campaign he was going to attack their job security, take home pay, working conditions and living standards. 

‘He now needs to stop hiding behind his $50 million taxpayer-funded advertising campaign, and front up in a televised debate to defend his extreme attack on Australian families.’ 

Howard has said he will debate Beazley in Parliament. 

The new legislation is expected to pass through the House of Representatives this afternoon.

Related 

Federal IR changes 2005 

 

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