WorkChoices - Women exploited; Government maligned

News

WorkChoices - Women exploited; Government maligned

Working women are increasingly becoming the victims of workplace exploitation, sexual harassment and discrimination under the Federal Government's WorkChoices IR system, according to a new report. Meanwhile the Federal Workplace Relations Minister has blamed the torrent of anti-Government IR letters to the editors in newspapers on 'trickery and deceit' by the ACTU.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

Working women are increasingly becoming the victims of workplace exploitation, sexual harassment and discrimination under the Federal Government's WorkChoices IR system, according to a new report. Meanwhile the Federal Workplace Relations Minister has blamed the torrent of anti-Government IR letters to the editors in newspapers on 'trickery and deceit' by the ACTU.

Working women 'victims' of WorkChoices: report

Working women are increasingly becoming the victims of workplace exploitation, sexual harassment and discrimination under the Federal Government's WorkChoices IR system, according to a new report.

The report, launched today by the NSW Minister for Women, Verity Firth, was written by employment lawyers from the Inner City Legal Centre and funded by the NSW Office for Women.

It analyses the circumstances surrounding more than 220 employment-related cases handled by the State's community legal centres since the start of WorkChoices.

Insecurity and exploitation

Firth said the picture it paints is one of 'growing job insecurity and workplace exploitation'.

'In fact, 40% of the cases documented involved female workers being dismissed without any warning or reason, with more than half of these women unable to seek any legal remedy because businesses with fewer than 100 workers are now exempt from unfair dismissal laws,' she said. 'The result is more and more women are working harder but without even the basic certainty of knowing that they will still have a job come tomorrow or next week.'

Strain on family

Firth said that in the case of working mothers, this uncertainty is 'inevitably placing added strain on family budgets and affecting the amount of time they can devote to their kids'.

'Historically, working women - particularly those in low paid jobs and industries - have been particularly reliant on the legal protections and pay rises guaranteed under the old awards system,' she said. 'The Howard Government has in effect stripped away legal protections from the very workers that needed them most, namely those with little or no real ability to negotiate a favourable AWA or individual agreement.'

Other key issues identified in the report were:

  • More than one in four cases (26%) involved unpaid wages and/or entitlement claims, and
  • A large number of cases (28%) involved claims of sexual harassment or discrimination, particularly towards pregnant women as well as those returning from maternity leave

'In addition to removing unfair dismissal protections for workers in small and medium size business, WorkChoices has made it possible for employers to make agreements, either individual or collective, that significantly reduce or eliminate existing award or statutory entitlements, including penalty or overtime rates, the scheduling of working hours, long service and severance pay,' Firth said.

Guide to unfair dismissal

Firth also launched the NSW Women's Employment Rights Project Website, Fact Sheets, and the 2nd edition of An Employee's Guide to Unfair Dismissal.

Related

WorkChoices means hard labour for pregnant women

Study shows not just 'rogue bosses' misusing WorkChoices

Anti-Govt letters an ACTU plot, says Hockey

The Federal Workplace Relations Minister has blamed the torrent of anti-Government IR letters to the editors in newspapers on 'trickery and deceit' by the ACTU.

Hockey accused trade unions of flooding local newspapers with pro-forma letters as part of a campaign against workplace relations laws.

Hockey said the ACTU's Your Rights at Work campaign has boasted that its draft letter, which could be added to at its top and bottom, had been successfully placed in hundreds of publications.

Authorised by Combet

He said the YR@W website is still authorised and endorsed by former ACTU Secretary and now ALP candidate, Greg Combet.

'Many of the ACTU letters have been written by middle-ranking union officials who do not declare their interest,' Hockey said in a statement. 'Many of the ACTU letters have repeated the mistruths contained in the deliberately misleading ACTU ads.

'This raises serious questions for Combet and Kevin Rudd. Does Combet, as an endorsed ALP candidate, still support this stacking and is this campaign of trickery and deceit endorsed by Kevin Rudd?'

Hockey said it is 'inappropriate' for political leaders to endorse such activities.

'Failure to condemn this practice will see Rudd and Combet complicit in an activity designed to deceive Australians,' he said.

Related

Gillard and Hockey exchange insults as election looms

Govt blasts critics but won't give out data, says union
 

 

Post details