Workplace news round-up


Workplace news round-up

Some recent workplace-related news: Gays fear IR laws will make it easier to be sacked; Aussie union leader wins international pay rise; Qld to get tougher on hiring overseas doctors; and seminar on environment legal obligations.


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Some recent workplace-related news: Gays fear IR laws will make it easier to be sacked;  Aussie union leader wins international pay rise; Qld to get tougher on hiring overseas doctors; and seminar on environment legal obligations.

Gays fear IR laws will make it easier to be sacked  

The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is concerned that the Federal Government’s IR changes will make gays and lesbians more vulnerable to homophobic employers. 

Under proposed changes, businesses which employ less than 100 staff will not be subject to unfair dismissal laws.

David Scamell, the Lobby’s co-convenor, said that whilst termination of employment on the basis of sexuality is illegal under the Workplace Relations Act, removing unfair dismissal laws means that ‘homophobic employers can now fire a gay or lesbian employee because of their sexuality without explicitly stating that they are being fired for being gay’.

‘An employer will not come out and say “you are fired because you are gay”, as that is against the law,’ Scamell said. 

‘But under these proposed changes, it will be easier for them to dismiss a gay employee and not be subject to legal challenges.’ 

According to Julie McConnell, another co-convenor, ‘research undertaken in 2002 showed that 59% of lesbians and gay were subject to discrimination in the workplace and almost 5% had been dismissed because of their sexuality’.

The Lobby will be conducting a campaign on workplace discrimination which will focus on the proposed Federal IR reforms. 

Aussie union leader wins international pay rise  

Australian maritime union National Secretary Paddy Crumlin has helped win a 10% pay rise and improved conditions for international seafarers on more than 3,000 ships.

The outcome also provides job prospects and security for Australian maritime workers in a new international collective agreement, unique in global industrial relations.

Landmark agreement

A joint negotiation group of 100 international shipowners reached an understanding with the ITF on October 6 to include seafarers from developed countries among their crew.

Understanding was also reached that unionised waterside workers should stevedore ships.

‘This is a landmark agreement,’ said Crumlin. ‘It means we’ve not only narrowed the pay gap between low paid international seafarers from developing countries and our own, we are building ways to provide Australian, Japanese and European seafarers a future in the industry.’ 

Qld to get tougher on hiring overseas doctors

Despite the current skills shortage, overseas doctors will face stricter competency screening before being allowed to practice medicine in Queensland.

This follows the ‘Dr Death’ allegations of malpractice at Bundaberg Hospital which resulted in a Commission of Inquiry into the work of a foreign-trained Dr Patel.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie and Health Minister Stephen Robertson have announced a taskforce of senior Queensland medical practitioners will be established to develop an improved system of checks and balances.

The Taskforce will be comprised of an independent chairman and senior representatives of the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, specialist medical colleges in Queensland, the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland, the Medical Board of Queensland, the Office of Health Practitioner Registration Boards and Queensland Health. 

Beattie said the task force will develop a ‘broader and more integrated system’ to govern the recruitment, assessment, supervision, training and support of doctors - especially overseas-trained doctors. 

‘The better checks and balances will help restore public faith in the health system.’

The Government also has decided to transfer the Ministerial delegation for area of need decisions from Queensland Health to the independent Office of the Health Practitioner Registration Boards. 

Seminar on environment legal obligations

A seminar for employers on managing environmental legal obligations will be held in Melbourne next month.

The seminar, run by the Australian Industry Group, will focus on understanding compliance and personal responsibilities. 

Ai Group says companies are confronted by a complex web of regulations, policies, permits, licences and agreements relating to environmental management.    

It points out that EPA prosecutions have risen dramatically in recent years and severe penalties of up to $500,000 and Director liability may flow from successful prosecutions.

Seminar presenters will address key environmental issues utilising a practical and problem-solving approach to help you manage them more effectively.

Topics addressed will include:

  • discharge thresholds

  • scheduled premises regulations and linkages to EPA licences

  • works approvals

  • neighbourhood environment improvement plans

  • trade waste changes; and the review of trade waste management framework.

The seminar will be held on Thursday 10 November at:

Australian Industry Group
20 Queens Road
Registration 8.30am
Seminar 9.00am - 12.00 noon 

Click here for a registration form or for further information please contact Michelle Thomson on 03 9867 0147.


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