WA trying to side-step WorkChoices with State laws

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WA trying to side-step WorkChoices with State laws

The WA Government is attempting to 'get around' WorkChoices by introducing a range of measures that would allow workers covered by the Federal laws to seek refuge in the State industrial relations system.

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The WA Government is attempting to 'get around' WorkChoices by introducing a range of measures that would allow workers covered by the Federal laws to seek refuge in the State industrial relations system.

WA Employment Protection Minister, Michelle Roberts, said amendments to State laws proposed by the Government included:

  • child employment protection for young workers treated unfairly by their employer
  • employees' access to common law for unfair dismissal and contractual benefits
  • protection for injured workers unfairly dismissed
  • unfair dismissal rights for bullying in the workplace under occupational health and safety legislation
  • alternative dispute resolution and mediation

She said there would also be consideration to allow joint sittings of the WAIRC.

As well, all State employees will be covered under the State system.

It is expected the amendments would allow a worker dismissed but with no resort to Federal unfair dismissal laws to go to a State tribunal and argue for protection under equal opportunity, OHS or child protection legislation, if a case could be made.

It is certain that such cases would immediately be taken to higher courts to see if the State legislation was valid, and not over-ridden by the Federal WorkChoices laws.

Minister Roberts said she would put in place some basic protection for WA workers so that they would not be so disadvantaged by WorkChoices.

'We need to bring back fairness into the industrial relations system,' she said. 'Workers are being disadvantaged by the unfair workplace laws introduced under WorkChoices and my proposed protection package will reinstate some of the rights that have been stripped away by John Howard.'

Roberts said the State's IR protection package would address unfairness and would re-establish a simple, fair and flexible industrial relations system.

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