Trouble in Vic as Greens release IR plans

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Trouble in Vic as Greens release IR plans

Only two days before Victoria heads to the polls, industrial relations is hotting up as an election issue with Opposition Leader Robert Doyle saying he will ask the Cole Royal Commission into the building and construction industry to hear a late submission if the Liberals win power.

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Only two days before Victoria heads to the polls, industrial relations is hotting up as an election issue with Opposition Leader Robert Doyle saying he will ask the Cole Royal Commission into the building and construction industry to hear a late submission if the Liberals win power.

Doyle is also sticking to his controversial advertising campaign which has seen him name a number of companies he says have cut jobs because of union trouble – despite complaints from the companies he refuses to pull them and says he stands by the ads ‘100%’.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Greens have released their IR policy, promising:

  • A strong award system, which allows for effective arbitration of disputes by a new State Commission;
  • Reduced working hours with no loss of pay;
  • Stronger laws against unfair dismissals, protecting contractors and casuals;
  • A ban on the use of Australian Workplace Agreements and individual contracts by the state government;
  • Repeal of secondary boycott laws and support for the right to strike as a fundamental legal right of workers;
  • Extending 14 weeks’ paid maternity leave to all awards;
  • Reversal, where possible, of the contracting out of public services;
  • Establishment of an employer-funded scheme to protect 100% of employee entitlements;
  • Protection of outworkers, by deeming them to be employees, allowing workers to recover pay entitlements up the contracting chain, and requiring accreditation to the Homeworkers Code of Practice;
  • Strengthening WorkCover to compensate injured workers, and strengthening health and safety legislation.

Greens’ IR spokesperson Gemma Pinnell said she found the Liberal Party’s focus on ALP-union links ‘extraordinary considering the Labor Government has shed much of its responsibility to workers’.

The launch of the Greens’ policy at Trades Hall yesterday has highlighted a split within the union movement. Electrical Trades Union Victorian secretary Dean Mighell – who left the ALP for the Greens earlier this year citing dissatisfaction with the Bracks Labor Government and concerns about party direction - was on hand to lend support at the launch and was one of the policy’s designers.

Mighell had also been pushing his union to disaffiliate from the ALP and Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary Leigh Hubbard was considering his ALP membership.

But two branches of the forestry union – the timber, and pulp and paper arms - have suspended their affiliation to the Trades Hall Council in disgust at what they see as its ill-placed support for the party.

Forestry workers have complained that Greens are condoning dangerous practices by protesters in state forests, and are also angered by Bracks Government indications that logging would be cut back in certain areas, which they see as bending to the Greens.

Also weighing in to the stoush is former VTHC head John Halfpenny, who wrote in a Melbourne newspaper this morning that after Tasmania’s experience, Victorians should be extremely wary of giving the Greens power.

Now living in Tasmania, Halfpenny said the Greens operated destructively and irresponsibly, and could not accept the responsibility of political power.

 

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