Unions win tough SA child labour laws

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Unions win tough SA child labour laws

Children under 14 will not be allowed to work under tough new child labour laws approved by the South Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

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Children under 14 will not be allowed to work under tough new child labour laws approved by the South Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Dangerous or pornographic work involving children is also banned.

Those aged under 15 will be banned from working between 6pm and 6am, and there will be a limit on the number of hours a child could work on a school day. However the bans will not apply to family businesses.

Business opposed new laws

The SA IRC yesterday gave the go ahead for the tough new child labour laws drafted by SA Unions despite opposition from business groups.

SA Unions is now able to move towards making an award to protect children regardless of the industry in which they are working. SA Unions Secretary, Janet Giles, said they will now assess the best way to proceed through discussions with employers and the Industrial Relations Minister.

Sexual exploitation

Bans on hazardous, sexually exploitative and unsupervised work by children are amongst the standards proposed in the draft award.

'We need comprehensive protections for all children regardless of the work they are doing', Giles said. 'While elements of this award might be considered by some to be controversial, we believe that every effort must be made to protect children aged under 18 from exploitation and abuse.

'We believe that the IRC's decision to reject Business SA's opposition to our proposal is a victory for workers and their unions and a victory for common sense.'

Will override WorkChoices

Giles said SA Unions has legal advice that the proposed 'Child Labour Award 2006' would override the Federal Government's WorkChoices IR laws.

Key elements of the new award include :

  • Establishing 14 as the minimum age for employment
  • A standard minimum wage according to age, and severance pay entitlements
  • Banning tasks which present health and safety risks, including agricultural and construction work
  • Prohibiting the employment of children in indecent, obscene or pornographic ways
  • Prohibiting indecent or transparent clothing, or working nude or partially nude
  • Children under 16 banned from unsupervised deliveries to private residences
  • Limiting hours of employment for children in formal education or training
  • Children under 15 banned from working between 6 pm and 6 am
  • Child workers must be supervised by an adult, who has responsibility for no more than three children at the same time
  • Restrictions on shifts, overtime and roster changes
  • Minimum leave entitlements as set down in the Fair Work Act
  • Provision of safe transport arrangements between home and work
  • Employers to maintain an employment register and ensure that children receive proper payment as stipulated by the award, not substituted by goods and services
  • Access for unions to advise and support children in relation to their work rights
  • A grievance and dispute process which enables access to the IRC

'It is frankly astonishing that we have not had tighter protections prior to this,' Giles said.

Family business exemption

'There is one important exemption — the draft award does not apply to children working in family businesses. That is a matter of responsibility for the parent or guardian.'

WA child protection workers get bonus to stay

Meanwhile child protection workers in WA have been awarded an extra allowance of between $108 and $149 per week to keep them on the job.

Child Protection Minister, Sue Ellery, said the Attraction and Retention Allowance would be awarded to 689 child protection workers, who include fieldworkers, education officers, team leaders, and clinical psychologists.

'This benefit is intended first and foremost to attract and retain workers in some front line positions working with children, families and the whole community,' Ellery said. 'They are at the coalface of society's problems and they can face a stressful and thankless task at times.'

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