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Union response to the government's ammended Junior rates bill ..



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THE HON PETER REITH.MP

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT, WORKPLACE RELATIONS AND SMALL BUSINESS LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

PARLIAMENT HOUSE CANBERRA ACT 2600

25 August 1999

UNION RESPONSE TO THE GOVERNMENT’S AMENDED JUNIOR RATES BILL, UNDERMINING LABOR’S CLAIM THAT IT HAS NOT DONE A BACKFLIP

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COMPERE:

The Shadow Industrial relations Minister was speaking to Fiona Reynolds. An ACTU Executive meeting today will put the ALP's about-face at the top of its agenda. Assistant Secretary Greg Combet told 'AM' the deal is a disgrace. The union representing shop assistants and fast food workers says that young people among its 230,000 members have

been sold out. The National Secretary of the Shop Distributive and Allied Trades Union, Joe De Bruyn spoke to Karen Snowden

DE BRUYN:

Well we're very disappointed because we feel really we've been left high and dry by this deal that's been done

SNOWDEN:

Have you been sold out?

DE BRUYN:

" Yes I think so because young people I think were looking forward to the possibility that being recognised as adults from the age of 18 and above, they might for the first time start to see that in their pay packets. But that's not to be.

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SNOWDEN:

When did you hear about this deal?

DE BRUYN:

Late last night actually, I was reading stories to my kids at home before they went to bed and the phone rang and I was told by the Labor Party that they had done a deal with Peter Reith and it was too late to do anything about it

SNOWDEN:

Had you been consulted beforehand?

DE BRUYN:

Not at all

SNOWDEN:

How do you feel about that?

DE BRUYN:

Well we're very disappointed because we were hoping that the Labor Party would utilise the opportunity that's been presented by the legislation to hold-out for wages justice for young people. Peter Reith knew that he was on the hook and that he had to cut a deal with the Labor Party. So there was a perfect opportunity for the Labor Party to say that young people aged 18 and above who are adults for all purposes except their wages, would now be entitled to get the adult rate of pay.

SNOWDEN:

What's wrong with maintaining the status quo. It would have been very disruptive to undo the system now that is right across your industry where youth wages are paid?

DEBRUYN:

Well I suppose you could have used a similar argument when women did not earn equal pay to men for the same work. The way we overcame that was to say let's agree to the principle of

Telephone: (02) 6277 7320 Fax: (02) 6273 4115 2

equal pay and let's phase it in over a period of say three years so that it's not disruptive and that is exactly what our proposal was for adult rates for people aged 18 and above

SNOWDEN: ^

What does this deal do for relations between your union, the ALP and the ACTU?

DE BRUYN:

Well I think the ACTU is probably just as disappointed as we are over what has happened because they were standing four square with us on the issue and they would also feel disappointed with what has been done. In terms of relationships with the Labor Party, I suppose it just goes to show that you cannot rely upon the Labor Party to represent your point of view in Parliament because on this occasion clearly they knew they were going down a different path and they deliberately failed to consult us about it

ENDS

Telephone: (02) 6277 7320 Fax: (02) 6273 4115 3