Unions reveal redundancy test case details

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Unions reveal redundancy test case details

As companies worldwide continue to go to the wall with revelations of corporate misadventure and mismanagement becoming increasingly common, the trade union movement plans to strike back to protect workers' entitlements in its upcoming federal redundancy test case.

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As companies worldwide continue to go to the wall with revelations of corporate misadventure and mismanagement becoming increasingly common, the trade union movement plans to strike back to protect workers' entitlements in its upcoming federal redundancy test case.

The details of the case, first broached at a meeting of the Australian Council of Trade Unions executive a year ago (see 142/2001) and expanded upon at the final meeting last November (see 307/2001), have now been agreed upon. The executive has resolved to act upon a claim which would seek to replicate the current NSW severance standard - a 16-week redundancy cap for workers under 45 years of age, and 20 weeks for workers aged 45 and over - into federal awards.

The federal standard, with its capped redundancy payout of eight weeks, has not been changed for 18 years.

Redundancy and workers' entitlements generally continue to be hot IR issues, with disputes in components supply companies over protecting entitlements bringing the automotive industry to its knees over the past year (see 178 and 198/2001). While the Government and employers say the Government's GEERS scheme, which caps entitlements at eight weeks (see 229/2001), is sufficient, unions are outraged that members are losing weeks of entitlements agreed to in enterprise bargaining.

Many Ansett workers, for example, had accrued more than 100 weeks worth of entitlements. But employers are worried about what they see as excessively generous amounts being agreed to, which raise the bar. The Australian Industry Group is currently compiling the results of a member survey designed to find out what people are paying (see 71/2002).

Queensland unions are currently preparing a test case on redundancy standards to be run in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission – that case also seeks to replicate the NSW termination, change and redundancy standards, set in 1994 (see 30/2002).

The ACTU has identified the Storage Services General Award 1999 as the initial test vehicle.

It seeks to:

  • insert the NSW standard for severance payments;
  • change the basis of calculation of a week's pay for redundancy and notice to allow for 'usual pay', not just ordinary time;
  • delete the normal retirement date limit on payment of severance;
  • limit circumstances where the employer can apply to reduce severance on grounds of alternative employment;
  • provide an allowance for job search, financial counselling and so on in the event of redundancy;
  • delete the reference to super benefits as ground for reduction in severance;
  • extend requirement to pay notice and redundancy to apprentices and non-short term casuals;
  • delete the fewer than 15 employees exemption for redundancy;
  • introduce a transmission of business clause in termination, as per current redundancy standard;
  • require consultation where more than 15 employees are made redundant.

 

 
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