Employment news — 12/12/08

News

Employment news — 12/12/08

Both the ACTU and a leading employer organisation have expressed concerns over November’s slight rise in unemployment, fearing things could get worse in the first part of next year. Meanwhile, Australia’s jockeys are threatening strike action unless racing authorities agree to set aside 1% of prize money to cover their OHS insurance.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

Both the ACTU and a leading employer organisation have expressed concerns over November’s slight rise in unemployment, fearing things could get worse in the first part of next year.
 
Meanwhile, Australia’s jockeys are threatening strike action unless racing authorities agree to set aside 1% of prize money to cover their OHS insurance.
 
Unions, employers fear job losses may rise
 
Both the ACTU and a leading employer organisation have expressed concerns over November’s slight rise in unemployment, fearing things could get worse in the first part of next year.
 
The ACTU has called on employers to make every endeavour to retain staff, while the ACCI says employers are doing just that, but forecasts unemployment won’t stay low unless confidence returns, domestic stimulus policies work, and flexibility remains in employment regulation.
 
ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said the small increase in unemployment to 4.4% was worrying, and the axing of 14,000 jobs globally by mining giant Rio Tinto showed worse could be on its way.

‘Today’s numbers show that the Australian economy is not in recession yet,’ Mr Lawrence said. ‘The weakening in the labour market is mild to date.'
 
Can’t be complacent
 
‘But we cannot be complacent as job losses usually follow an economic contraction with a lag, and job numbers are likely to continue to weaken well into next year.'
 
‘We need proactive, counter-cyclical action to be taken now to ensure job security for working Australians.'
 
‘The Government and the Reserve Bank have made quick and substantial responses to the global financial crisis, and the $10.4 billion economic security stimulus package is estimated to protect the equivalent of 75,000 jobs over the next few months.'
 
‘We need to see that supplemented by action by employers to hold onto as many jobs as possible.’
 
Retrain, redeploy or cut hours
 
The ACTU executive this week called for employers to retrain, redeploy or reduce excessive working hours rather than cut jobs.
 
This would guarantee workers a level of income security, with the flow-on benefits for the economy, and position businesses for the eventual economic recovery, Lawrence said.
 
‘We call on other employers to follow the model of the car industry, where employers have worked constructively with unions to minimise any job losses from a slowdown in vehicle sales,’ Mr Lawrence said.
 
He said action by employers should be supplemented with fast-tracking of nation-building investments in schools, hospitals, housing, public transport and green jobs.
 
Employers holding on: ACCI
 
ACCI chief executive Peter Anderson said employment data for November shows employers are still trying to hold existing staffing levels in the face of a slowing economy.
 
‘The fact that the unemployment rate has risen by only a relatively small amount (up 0.1% to 4.4%) is welcome,’ he said. ‘This suggest that most employers, having experienced a skills shortage for a number of years, are trying to stay positive and hold onto staff for as long as possible.'
 
‘Although we know that business activity and job ads are down, in the short-term some employers are avoiding lay-offs by reducing costs in other areas of business activity, by reducing hours or restructuring rosters, by staff taking periods of leave, or re-deploying staff. However, in most businesses these are only options for a limited time.’
 
Critical period ahead
 
Anderson said a more critical period for business decisions about jobs is likely to come in the early months of 2009, once an assessment is made of economic activity in the wake of the stimulus package, the recent interest rate reductions, and consumer and investment confidence over the Christmas–New Year period.
 
‘Moving into 2009, ACCI believes that a second stimulus package will be necessary, and should be directed at promoting business investment,’ Anderson said.
 
‘This stimulus could include tax cuts and in particular the adoption of an investment allowance, or up-front tax deduction, to provide the incentive for business to maintain investment levels.’
 
 
Jockeys threaten to strike over OHS costs
 
Meanwhile, Australia’s jockeys are threatening strike action unless racing authorities agree to set aside 1% of prize money to cover their OHS insurance.
 
They also want support for Australia’s 860 jockeys and their families in the case of accidents at the track.
 
The Australia Racing Board is meeting today (Friday) and the Australian Jockeys Association (AJA) is threatening to take action unless the ARB accedes to their demands.
 
Leading jockey Shane Dye will join AJA representatives at the ARB meeting today to call for the 1% of prize money to go towards protecting jockeys through things such as insurance costs and welfare programs.
 
AJA CEO Paul Innes said he can’t see how jockeys could continue to ride throughout the racing calendar unless the scheme is endorsed.
 
Will ramp up campaign
 
‘We’re hopeful the ARB will endorse the national scheme, but jockeys are very serious about the issue and they’re willing to ramp up the campaign if need be,’ Innes said.
 
‘This is a pivotal moment in the future of Australian racing, where racing bodies from around the country have the opportunity to protect all Australian jockeys from the dangers inherent in the industry.’
 
Innes said if the ARB is unable to coordinate a national response it is hard to see how jockeys will be able to continue to ride without appropriate protections to income and to the threat of legal proceedings by third parties.
 
Subsidised from profits
 
‘Jockeys are the only professional athletes required to pay their own public liability insurance,’ he said. ‘It’s ridiculous that they have to pay it at all, but at the very least it should be subsidised by those who profit from the industry.'
 
‘Racing is a dangerous industry, jockeys put their lives on the line every day, and as a result of a lack of protection they’re also being forced to risk financial ruin each time they saddle up.'
 
‘Australian jockeys are committed to their industry and they love their work, but they need the support of all who profit from the risks they take if they are to have viable long-term careers.’
 
Under the AJA’s plan, 1% of race money would be directed to the AJA to:
  • cover jockeys’ compulsory Public Liability premiums
  • fund a national Personal Accident Scheme for jockeys
  • support jockeys and their families in financial hardship due to death, illness and injury through the National Jockeys’ Trust; and
  • fund other welfare programs.

 

Post details