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Vanstone's mismanagement of business services could mean job losses for workers with disabilities in business services.



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Media Release Annette Ellis MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR CANBERRA SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGEING AND SENIORS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR DISABILITIES

19 August 2003

EMBARGOED UNTIL 4PM

Vanstone’s mismanagement of business services could mean job losses for workers with disabilities in business services

Many people with disabilities who work in business services are at risk of losing their jobs due to the mismanagement of the Howard Government, Annette Ellis MP told the ACTU Congress today in Melbourne

The Labor Party is committed to a higher standard of working conditions for these employees, but in Government will prevent the fall-out that seems bound to occur under the Howard Government.

The Howard Government has introduced quality assurance reforms to the business service sector, which includes a wage assessment tool to provide pro-rata wages, by which employees are paid in accordance with their assessed abilities to perform their duties.

As much as I support the intentions of the quality assurance reforms, I’m extremely concerned that people with disabilities who are currently employed in business services will lose their jobs and then be left with no other options.

When the reforms were introduced we made it very clear that they required adequate support measures to ensure that the viability of business services was not threatened. Business services that do not meet the certification standards by 31 December 2004 will not be eligible for Commonwealth funding.

The Howard Government has failed to provide those support measures, and there is a very real threat that many business services will close down next year. The real intent of the Howard Government must be questioned - is it to improve working conditions for people with disabilities or is it to reduce Commonwealth expenditure and responsibility in this sector?

A Labor Government will place an immediate moratorium on the quality assurance deadlines. We will ensure that the immense pressure currently placed on business services to meet these deadlines is released, and that people with disabilities are able to continue their employment opportunities in business services.

The moratorium is in no way an attempt to stop the quality assurance process. We are committed to improving the working conditions and protecting the employment rights of people with disabilities. But the reforms must be implemented in a way that ensures the best outcomes for all involved.

To achieve this, we will examine various initiatives such as the further extension of wage subsidy arrangements or alternative ‘employment’ or ‘social participation’ service models.

For further information please call: Annette Ellis MP 0419 422 296 Victoria Toulkidis (Adviser) 0413 459 030