Vic govt uses WorkChoices laws in police pay dispute

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Vic govt uses WorkChoices laws in police pay dispute

The Victorian Labor Government is implementing John Howard's WorkChoices legislation on its police force, with officers facing a minimum of four hours docked pay each if they take industrial action over a pay dispute.

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The Victorian Labor Government is implementing John Howard's WorkChoices legislation on its police force, with officers facing a minimum of four hours docked pay each if they take industrial action over a pay dispute.

New Premier, John Brumby, has no choice but to use the WorkChoices legislation because former Liberal Premier, Jeff Kennett, handed over the State's IR powers to the Commonwealth in the 1990s.

No choice

Brumby said police commanders had no choice but to dock officers' pay for industrial action because Federal industrial laws required them to do so.

Yesterday police command sent an email to all officers warning their pay would be docked by between four and 12 hours a shift if they took industrial action. Any industrial action, no matter how brief, requires four hours pay to be docked. Any more than four hours requires the entire day's pay to be docked.

Work bans

Police officers are about to implement work bans, including refusing to process fines and attend court, in support of their pay claim of 4.1% a year.

'What police command did over the last few days was simply advise employees, that is members of the Victorian police force, that they would be docked four hours' pay consistent with the national industrial relations legislation,' Brumby said. 'If the police commissioner doesn't do that she is in breach of the Workplace Relations Act.'

Union enraged

The move has enraged the Victorian Police Association , whose Secretary, Paul Mullett, said police could be forced to take second jobs if the threat to their pay was not removed.

'The State Labor Government, whose position is that they oppose WorkChoices, is now on the cusp of (using) John Howard's industrial legislation,' Mullett said. 'It would be far better for the new Premier to step in and resolve our dispute with a fair and reasonable offer and let our members get back to what they do best, which is providing policing services.'

Productivity increases

Brumby said the Government's offer remained 3.25% a year, with negotiation over productivity increases.

'We have national laws in place. We wouldn't be authorising industrial action,' he said. 'We wouldn't be authorising people to implement work bans, would we?'

Brumby said the police union should take up their complaints with the Federal Government and Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey.

However, Hockey said the dispute was the Victorian Government's problem and the Federal laws were not to blame.

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