WA unions to fight state ‘WorkChoices’ system


WA unions to fight state ‘WorkChoices’ system

WA unions are running a ‘No WorkChoices in WA’ campaign following the State Government’s decision to review its workplace relations laws.


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WA unions are running a ‘No WorkChoices in WA’ campaign following the State Government’s decision to review its workplace relations laws.
The review was announced earlier this year, and Western Australia is the only state to have categorically refused to discuss referring its IR laws to the Federal Government to allow for a nation workplace relations system that also covers public sector workers.
WA Premier Colin Barnett has said the government will not discuss such a referral until the review is complete.
Public sector cuts
UnionsWA secretary Simone McGurk said Treasurer Troy Buswell has twice refused to rule out cuts in wages and conditions to the state’s 300,000 public sector workers.
‘Western Australia’s public sector includes nurses, teachers, police officers and child protection workers, who are all suffering under increased workloads resulting from the State Government’s arbitrary 3% budget cuts,’ McGurk said.
‘Through his silence Buswell has made it clear that the State Government is planning to bring in WorkChoices-style changes that will weaken the award safety net system and cut minimum conditions in Western Australia.'
Harder to attract workers
‘This will make it harder to attract and retain public sector workers, particularly in the new Gorgon-led boom, where the private sector will be seeking to attract workers with better pay and conditions.' [The Gorgon project is a $50 billion natural gas development.]
‘This will not only impact on the quality of health, education, policing and child protection services, but also on public services that will come under pressure during the new boom, such as environmental protection and mine safety.’
Buswell recently appointing a former Howard Government industrial relations advocate, Steven Amendola, to review the state industrial relations system and recommend areas for legislative reform in areas including individual versus collective agreements, the award safety net, minimum wages, statutory minimum conditions of employment and unfair dismissal.
Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Francis Logan said Amendola had acted for the Howard Government in its attempt to smash the Maritime Union of Australia in the waterfront dispute of 1998 and represented Liberal ministers in State Wage cases.
The review is due to report to government at the end of October and the State Government is expected to announce its intended changes soon after.
TV ads
McGurk said UnionsWA recently launched its 'No WorkChoices in WA' campaign, which includes a series of television commercials, to highlight the threat the review poses to more than 300,000 workers remaining in the state industrial relations system.
She said the 'No WorkChoices in WA' campaign would be run until the State Government guaranteed that it would:
  • not introduce WorkChoices style individual contracts in Western Australia
  • not erode minimum standards or the award safety net system in Western Australian workplaces
  • maintain the role of the WA Industrial Relations Commission as the independent umpire
  • maintain protections against unfair dismissal
  • maintain and improve public services in Western Australia.


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