NSW to protect young workers from WorkChoices

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NSW to protect young workers from WorkChoices

The NSW Government has moved to protect all young workers in the State from WorkChoices by changing the law so they will not have to bargain individually with employers on their basic wages and conditions.

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The NSW Government has moved to protect all young workers in the State from WorkChoices by changing the law so they will not have to bargain individually with employers on their basic wages and conditions.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma told State Parliament yesterday that young workers will not have to bargain individually to maintain their existing penalties, allowances, training pay and training leave.

'Young people on State or Federal awards will be protected by stringent minimum conditions,' he said.

'Wages and conditions will have to be at least at the level provided by NSW awards and legislation. Young people will have access to the services provided by the NSW Office of Industrial Relations, and they will be able to get information about their employment rights and receive help to enforce their entitlements.'

150,000 young people affected

Iemma said there were 150,000 young people in NSW under the age of 18 years who are in formal employment and would be affected by the legislation. He said the States have a constitutional right to make laws for workers under the age of 18.

The Premier said that since WorkChoices began in March, the New South Wales Office of Industrial Relations has received more than 82,000 calls from workers and businesses being hurt by the changes - 'workers losing hard-won entitlements and conditions, workers stripped of holiday pay and penalty rates, workers demeaned and threatened with the sack'.

NSW IR Minister John Della Bosca said a claim by Federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews that the legislation was not required because there were already adequate protections under WorkChoices was wrong.

'This is completely misleading as WorkChoices requires just five minimum protections,' he said.

No minimum pay under WorkChoices

'And frighteningly, if you are under 21 years of age there are only four because under Section 194 of WorkChoices there is no requirement for a minimum rate of pay for junior employees.'

Della Bosca said that under WorkChoices young workers stood to lose a large range of conditions and entitlements including penalty rates, overtime, rest breaks and uniform allowance.

Vic brochure on WorkChoices for the young

Meanwhile the Victorian Government has launched an information brochure to help young people avoid exploitation under the Federal Government's workplace changes.

'Research shows young people are at risk of being exploited under WorkChoices because they have the least experience in negotiating pay and conditions,' Industrial Relations Minister Rob Hulls said. 'Young people also have the least information about what the Federal Government's changes mean for them, and are less likely than older workers to know what their entitlements are.

Low experience

'This group in our community is high on confidence but low on experience. Young people are also unlikely to seek help from their parents or a union when asked to bargain with an employer - a recipe for exploitation.'

The brochure, prepared by the Office of the Workplace Rights Advocate, is called Work Choices: What Parents & Young People Should Know.

It is available though the Workplace Rights information line on 1300 882 648.

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