Workplace ombudsman too slow, says ACTU

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Workplace ombudsman too slow, says ACTU

Queensland Government figures that show it has only received four responses out of 800 complaints referred to the ombudsman, is proof the workplace watchdog is failing workers, the ACTU says.

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Queensland Government figures that show it has only received four responses out of 800 complaints referred to the ombudsman, is proof the workplace watchdog is failing workers, the ACTU says.

Media reports indicate that 800 complaints from workers who were underpaid, dismissed or treated unfairly, to a Queensland Government help line, were then referred to the Federal Government's Workplace Ombudsman. However, of these only four responses have been received back by the Queensland Government.

A survey of the outstanding claims of workers by the Queensland Government found that more than one in three (33.5%) were dissatisfied with the service or outcome by the Workplace Ombudsman.

The top three reasons the workers were unhappy with the response were:

  1. The Federal Government workplace watchdog indicated the worker had 'no claim' but did not provide reasons
  2. The watchdog accepted the employer's details of events without giving the worker an opportunity to respond
  3. The watchdog did not provide any detail or keep claimants informed on the progress of the matter

Watchdog 'ineffective'

The survey also found that the Howard Government workplace watchdog was ineffective - in more than one in 10 cases (11.5%), the individual worker was 'directed, pressured, or otherwise encouraged' to resolve the 'matter themselves directly with their employer or by their own small claims or legal action'.

Workers also said the watchdog was very slow, with the survey finding one in 10 (10%) matters had been under investigation for six months or more without resolution and without legal action being commenced.

'If you have been sacked unfairly or suffered a pay cut it could take six months or more for your case to be heard,' ACTU President, Sharan Burrow, said. 'The caseload for the Howard Government's workplace inspectors has jumped from 25 cases per inspector to 40 since WorkChoices came into effect, and further increases in caseloads are expected.

'But besides the lack of resources, the main issue is that the WorkChoices IR laws are fundamentally unfair and need to be torn up.'

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